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The object of the present work is to try to call more 
general attention to the results of recent excavation in 
Greek lands. This object I have tried to express in the 
title chosen : it will of course be understood that the 
New Chapters are not the chapters of this book, but 
the chapters which have been opened to us at Mycenae, 
at Olympia, and in the other scenes of recent researches. 
The interest of these researches is many-sided : some 
people will be attracted by their mythologic, some by 
their artistic results, some by their bearing on ancient 
life and manners, and so forth. On their artistic aspects 
I have scarcely touched, this book being not primarily 
concerned with art. My endeavour has been to set forth 
briefly, and, if possible, in a way tending to interest all 
Phil-hellenes, the gains which the excavations of the 
last twenty years have brought us in regard to our 
knowledge of Greek history, using the word history in 
the widest sense, as covering not only political events, 
but all sides of the activity of a nation. 

About half of the matter in this work has been printed 
before. The greater part of Chapters IV., VI., VII., 
VIIL, IX., XV. has appeared in the Qti.arterly Review, 

viii Preface. 

most of Chapter X. in the Contemporary Review, most of 
Chapter XI. in the Fortnightly Review, and parts of 
Chapters I., V. in Macmillan's Magazine. Chapters L, H-, 
III, XII., XIII., XIV. are mainly or entirely unpublished, 
and V. and VI. are in great part new. I have to thank 
the proprietors of the Contemporary and Fortnightly 
Reviews and of Macmillan's Magazine for permission 
freely to use this old material. I have carefully revised 
it, in some cases almost re-writing, and in all cases 
endeavouring to bring my work up to the level of recent 
knowledge. One chapter only, that on the Successors of 
Alexander, I have not attempted to revise. It is evident 
that so slight a sketch of so vast a subject could not be 
seriously corrected. The claim of this paper to appear in 
the present book rests on the fact that it embodies the 
results of considerable numismatic research. 

As a rule the inscriptions found at the sites dealt with 
in these chapters have not been discussed, as such dis- 
cussion would have been too technical, and dealt only 
with detached points. Besides, to deal only with the 
subject-matter of the inscriptions discovered on the one 
site of Olympia would take a volume. Inscriptions do, 
however, furnish the main theme of two Chapters, XII. 
and XIV. 

The Chapters are quite independent, excepting II. to 
v., in which is attempted the very difficult task of giving 
a slight account of the recent discoveries of the remains 
of pre-historic Greece. In a subject so rapidly moving 
and so full of false lights, it is dangerous to commit 
oneself to any views ; and it is almost certain that future 
discovery will modify any views set forth under the 

Preface. ix 

existing circumstances. But I felt it incumbent on me 
not to avoid the responsibility of publishing such opinions 
as many years' study of the subject have suggested to me. 

The few illustrations used are all taken from authori- 
tative works, and intended only to make the text more 
intelligible. I have to express my indebtedness to the 
authors and proprietors of them. 

These Chapters were usually written as a relief in the 
intervals of lecturing, cataloguing and other more absorb- 
ing employments. They are not, I need scarcely say, in- 
tended to be exhaustive. Within limits so narrow nothing 
more could be attempted than to give a rough outline. 
I have written not for archaeologists, but for the ordinary 
educated reader, for those who are acquainted with the 
literature or the history or the art of Greece, and who 
wish to fill up lacunae, or to learn in what directions the 
spade is increasing our acquaintance with ancient Hellas. 
Certain inconsistencies, as the use sometimes of / and 
sometimes of the more formal we, or differences in style 
and scale, result from the variety of the occasions on which 
various parts of the work were written. Also in some of 
the papers earliest written, especially Chapter X., are 
passages which I should not now write : but these, unless 
actually incorrect, I have not usually altered. 

Of the sites not here treated of, some are dealt with 
in more or less detail in recent papers by other writers. 
As to Delos the reader is referred to Professor Jebb's 
paper in the first volume of the Journal of Hellenic 
Studies; Ephesus and the Cimmerian Bosphorus are 
spoken of in Sir Charles Newton's Essays; Icaria and 
Paphos in Mr. Louis Dyer's Gods in Greece. But the 

■^ Preface. 

English literature on this subject is anything 

My principal obligations are expressed in the dec 
tion. In addition, I am indebted to several friend; 
Oxford and elsewhere, for reading the proofs of var 
chapters and helping me with suggestions and correct! 
in particular to Mr. W. W. Fowler, Mr. D. G. Hoga 
and Miss Alice Gardner. 


Oxford, \st March, 1802. 




Scarceness and unsatisfactory character of ancient authorities, i. 
Desirability of verification, 3. Actual and ideal history, 5. 
Possible tests of historical fact, geographic, 8 : inscriptions, 1 1 : 
works of art, 14: coins, 15. Instance, Mycenaean history, 17. 
Great extent of materials for verification of history, 20. The 
verification of history by the imagination, 22. Principal means, 
travel and archaeology, 24. 



The exploration of Asia Minor, 28. Inconsistent accounts of the 
. Phrygians in ancient writers, 30. | The Phrygians properly a 
wariior dan who ruled a Canaanite' population, 31. The region 
about Mount Sipylus, 34. The Greater Phrygia on the San- 
garius, 35. Reliefs of this district, 37. Great Phrygian tombs,'' 
40. The Troad : excavations at Hissarlik, 44. Correspondences 
and discrepancies with the Iliad, 46. Exceptional finds of the 
Mycenaean class, 51. The Palace, 53. 1 



Geography of Argolis, 56. Legends of Mycenae, 58. Pausanias at 
Mycenae, 59. Subterranean treasuries, 61. ,S.cllliemann's dis- 
covery of rock-tombs, 63. Subsequent excavations; 67. Orcho- 
menus, 69. Bapheion, 70. 1 Close relations of art to Egypt, 72. 
Mr. Petrie's date, 74. Burials at Mycenae probably re-inter- 
ments, 76. The circle of stone^ later, 79. Indications of con- 
nection with Phrygia, 81. Compp.rison with legends accepted 
by Thucydides, 83. Date of Achaean civilization, 84. The 
Carian theory, 86. Mycenaean and earlier remains in the 
Islands,' 87. j 

xii Contents. 



Position of Tiryns, 91. Its history, 93- The Palace 96. Propy- 
laea, 100. Forecourt, loi. Great hall, 102. Bath-room, 106. 
Quarters of women; 107. Alabaster frieze, no. Wall-pamtings, 
III. Chamber^ in walls, 112. Question of nationahty, 114. 
.SBlSQ^QULofj^eroic^age, 1 15. 



Date of Homeric poems, 118. Native and imported works of art at 
Mycenae, 120. Break in art after the Dorian invasion, 1 23. The 
geometric style, 125. Revival of art under eastern influences, 126. 
The shield of Achilles, 130. Other works described in the Iliad, 
139. The Cup of Nestor, 141. Homeric armour, 143. The 
Palace of Odysseus, 145. The golden age at Mycenae, 151. 



Phoenicians and early inhabitants, 153. pult of Aphrodite, 155. 
Adonis. 157. Greek settlements, 159. The Cypria, i6o. Persian 
Conquests, 162. Evagoras, 164. The Ptolemies, 165. Effemi- 
nacy of people, 167. Mediaeval Cyprus, 168— Present inhabitants, 
171. Beginning of excavations, 173. The discovery of the 
language, 173. Cesnola's excavations, 175. Cyprus Exploration 
Fund, 177. Classes of tombs, 178. Excavation at Raphes, 180. 
Excavation at Salamis, 181. The problem of Cypriote art, 183. 



Earliest contact of Greeks and Egyptians, 188. Psammitichus, 1^9. 
Egypt opened to the Greeks, 191. Discoveries at Daphnae, 194. 
Inscriptions at Abu Simbel, 198. Apries, 198. Amasis, 200. 
Site of Naucratis, 202. Early history of the colony, 204; Pottery 
of Naucratis, 206. Building of the Hellenion, 208. Scarabs and 
pottery, 214. The Persian conquest of Egypt, 215. Egyptian 
revolts, 218. Alexander the Great in Egypt, 223. The Ptolemaic 
regime, 225. 




Recent excavations on the Acropolis, 231. Visit of Pausanias, 235. 
The Acropolis in pre-historic times, 236. The kings, 238. De- 
struction by the Persians, 239. Reconstruction after B.C. 479, 
241. Levelling of surface, 242. Burial of broken statues, 243. 
Old temple of Athena, 244. Pediment of temple of Athena, 245. 
Other early pediments, 246. Female figures, 247. Early Athenian 
vases, 251. Works of Cimon, 254. Was the old temple of 
Athena rebuilt? 255. Splendid works of Pericles, 256. The 
Propylaea, 258. Cults of the Acropolis, 259. Later history of 
the Acropolis, 262. Lord Elgin, 263. 



The German excavation, 266. Physical training in Greece, 267. 
Nudity and oil, 269. Ancient and modern feats, 271. Institution 
of the Olympic festival, 273. The throng in the Altis, 274. The 
temple of Zeus, 277. The Heraeum, 283. Other buildings in the 
Altis, 285. Palaestrae outside the Altis, 289. Order of the 
contests, 293. Rewards of the victors, 297. Downfall of Greek 
athletic sports, 300. Their place taken by military exercises, 303. 



The cemetery by the Dipylon, 305. Reliefs representing daily life, 
307. Reliefs having reference to death, 311. Symbolical figures, 
314. Conventional character of monuments, 316. Backward 
reference of reliefs, 320. Inscriptions on pubHc tombs, 321. 
Simplicity of private inscriptions, 323. Metrical epitaphs, 325. 
Paucity of references to future life, 330. Christian epitaphs, 331. 
Minatory inscriptions, 334. 



Discovery of archaic reliefs at Sparta, 338. Representations of heroes 
on them, 340. Ancient beliefs as to the future life, 341. Persis- 
tence of burial customs, 343. Details of the Spartan reliefs, 344. 
Lycian tombs and reliefs, 346. Representations of banquets, 347. 
The hero as rider, 351. Female figures in heroic reliefs, 353. 
Connection with Attic sepulchral reliefs, 353. Terra- cotta 
statuettes in graves, 354. 

5:iv Contents. 



Plato's opinion of medicine, 357. Rise of the cult of Asclepius, 35S. 
Democedes, 359. Other public physicians, 360. Physicians' 
oath, 361. ' Precinct of Asclepius at Athens, 363. The Plutus of 
Aristophanes, 365. Excavations at Epidaurus, 368. Records of 
cures by Asclepius, 370 : their date, 376. Later Asclepian in- 
scriptions at Epidaurus and Rome, 378. 



Sources of our knowledge, 381. Various local mysteries, 383. Origin 
of those at Eleusis, 384. Four acts of the mysteries, 386. Pro- 
cession to Eleusis, 388. The Hall of the Mystae, 389. Proceed- 
ings at Eleusis, 392. The sacred dramas, 395. Vase-paintings, 
399. Effects of the celebrations, 401. 



Early cults at Dodona, 403. ApoUine oracles, 405. Methods of 
giving responses, 407. Dodonaean responses in ancient writers, 
408. Leaden tablets with questions discovered by Carapanos, 409. . 



History of Hellas and Hellenism, 413. Essentially Greek character 
of Alexander's conquests, 414. Paucity of authorities for later 
Greek history, 417. Condition of Macedon after Alexander, 419. 
Gaulish invasion, 420. Reconstitution of the kingdom, 422. 
Greece : the Achaean League, 423. The reformed Sparta, 425. 
The Aetolians, 426. Egyp% 427. Syria, 430. Greek hold on 
Asia, 431. The far East, 433. Cities of Syria and Asia Minor, 
435. Expansion of commerce, 436. Rhodes, 438. Changes in 
religion, 440. Sarapis, 442. Cybele and Mithras, 443. The 
Games, 445. Erani and thiasi in Greece, 446. Philosophy, 447. 
Material progress and science, 449. Wealth and luxury, 451. 
Profligacy, 452. Domestic hfe ; position of women, 454. Senti- 
ment for nature, 456. Realism in art, 457. 



51. Jewelry from Hissarlik 

53. Ground-plan of Palace, Hissarlik, 

62. The Acropolis of Mycenae 

64. Royal tombs, Mycenae 

65. Mycenae swords . 

66. Siege of city, Mycenae 
69. Ceiling at Orchomenus 
71. Gold cups from Bapheion 

99. Plan of Upper Citadel, Tiryns 

113. Walls at Carthage and Tiryns 

138. Phoenician Cup, Cyprus . 

139. Gold plate, Mycenae . 
141. Cup, Mycenae . . . . 
144. Gold seal, Mycenae 

234. The Acropolis of Athens . 

278. Olympia 

390. Eleusis 

Schliemann's Ilios, p. 488. 
Schliemann's Tiryns, p. 225. 
Schuchhardt, Schliemanii's 
Ausgrabungen, trans., p. 298. 
Schliemann's MycenaCj^g. 124. 
Bulletin de Corr. Hell., vol. x. 
Epheineris Arch. 1891, pi. 2. 
Schliemann's Tiryns, p. 299. 
Archdol. Anseiger, 1890, p. 

Schliemann's Tiryns, pi. ii. 

!> „ P- 324- 

Cesnola's Cyprus, pi. xix. 

Schliemann's Mycenae, p. 309. 

I, » P- 237. 

P- 174- 

Joicrn. Hell. Studies, 1880, 

pi. viii. 
Funde von Olympia, pi. i. 
Praktika, 1887, pi. i. 




There is a notable distinction between the records of 
ancient and the records of modern history. All that 
we possess of records of ancient history, that is, of the 
ages before the great barbarian invasions, reaches us as 
wreckage, as a small remnant which has survived the 
flood of ages of ignorance and has floated down to us. 
The records of modern history, on the other hand, are 
mostly on our side of the flood. From this one fact 
arise great differences in method between the investiga- 
tion of the history of Egypt or Assyria, Greece or Rome, 
and the investigation of modern history, some of which 
will be mentioned below. But the most important differ- 
ence lies in the far greater necessity for verification in the 
case of ancient history, wherever verification is possible. 

The great difficulty of writers on modern history is in 
co-ordinating the vast masses of material before them, 
comparing statement with statement and writer with 
writer, and deciding which version of a story has the 
better authority. Writing and printing have for several 
centuries past been so usual that almost everything im- 
portant which has happened has been somewhere or other 
recorded. It is the quantity rather than the scarcity of 
information which makes our great difficulty in dealing 
with modern, and particularly with very modern times. 

The opposite holds of ancient history. There the great 


?• New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. I- 

trouble is not only the conflict of authorities, but even 
more their paucity. If anyone wanders away from the 
main stream of ancient history he will be astonished to 
find how little is recorded. We . scarcely know the out- 
lines of the history of the Phoenicians, the Etruscans, or 
even the Parthians. We learn little about the cities 
founded by the Greeks in South Italy, and of their sudden 
and wonderful bloom ; and even if we follow the main 
stream of history we continually find that we have but a 
single narrative of an event, and that single narrative on 
the face of it very improbable if not impossible, or 
obviously prejudiced, or inconsistent with itself. 

Nor have we only the paucity of ancient authorities to 
complain of, but also their unsatisfactory character. A 
considerable part of our account of ancient history rests 
on the word of such writers as Diodorus and Justin, who 
follow authorities no longer extant, and whose judgment 
is worth next to nothing. When Diodorus contradicts 
Thucydides we lightly set him aside, but when he contra- 
dicts no one, because no one else mentions the particular 
event of which he is speaking, then, in the absence of any 
direct counter-evidence, we are disposed to accept his 
statements. Perhaps we cannot help doing so ; but if the 
woof of ancient history contains such patchings how can 
it hold together ? Even to the best and most trustworthy 
of ancient writers, with one or two possible exceptions, 
feelings such as are now usual as to the sacredness of fact 
were absolutely foreign : there is a scientific realism about 
the modern mind which is a recent growth, and of which 
the ancients generally had no more notion than they had 
of gunpowder or of printing. And at all events from the 
time of Thucydides onwards, we must make allowance in 
all ancient histories for the strong influence of rhetorical 
and sophistic tendencies, which grew stronger and 

Chap. I.] The Verification of A ncient History. 3 

Hence to many students the pursuit of ancient history- 
is a gradual education in scepticism. They begin by 
despising Diodorus, and go on to doubting Herodotus, 
until they proceed to have very grave doubts about many 
things in Thucydides. And if there comes a reaction, it 
is only the reaction which is the natural fruit of that 
extreme scepticism which is always conservative. Men do 
not learn to believe in the ancient writers more, but they 
begin more and more to doubt whether certainty is 
attainable in ancient history at all. Abandoning all hope 
of reaching actual fact, they become content to learn what 
was believed by this or that party, this or that historian. 
They take the statements of ancient writers with a grain 
of salt ; but they do not attempt a really searching 
criticism of those statements, because they regard such 
criticism as an attempt to measure distances with an 
elastic thread or to rule lines with a rod of pith. 

The spirit of criticism and the spirit of scepticism are 
the same. And as we cannot in these days cease to be 
critical, it is likely that we shall tend more and more to 
scepticism as regards ancient history. But the best, per- 
haps the only, remedy for scepticism lies in the possibihty 
of to some extent verifying ancient history. This verifica- 
tion consists, in history as in physical science, in bringing 
views before they are finally accepted to the test of 
actually-existing fact. There are of course limits to the 
availability of such facts in the case of ancient history, yet 
the test can sometimes be applied, more often than most 
students of ancient history are disposed to believe. 

I do not propose now to discuss all the tests which may 
be brought to bear upon the statements of the ancient 
historians. For example, the languages of the ancient 
world, though sometimes dead, are at least very well- 
preserved corpses, and their dissection is a scientific 
process whence may accrue much gain to history. No 

B 2 

New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. 

doubt comparative philology furnishes us in many cases 
with a test whereby we may directly learn the truth m 
such matters as the geographical distribution of races, 
their relations one to the other, and their economic and 
social conditions at various periods of history. But com- 
parative philology is so far outside the circle of my know- 
ledge that I cannot venture to speak further of it. 

Perhaps more important from the historical point of 
view is the very modern science of ethnography, which 
deals with the beginnings of civilisation, traces to a 
common origin customs prevailing in various lands, and 
shows how in many countries the same primary forces of 
human desire and intelligence produced results of a parallel 
character. Comparative mythology and folklore come 
under this head. Of course this test is of little value 
when we come to speak of civilised societies. But in 
regard to the earliest history of Egyptians, Greeks and 
Romans, the religious customs and social habits of those 
nations, the ethnographic test may be applied with 

I propose, however, to confine myself to the mention of 
four classes of facts with which our narratives of ancient 
history may be brought into contact: — (i) geographic 
fact, (2) inscriptions, (3) works of art, and (4) coins. 

These classes of facts we must briefly consider in turn. 
But first I wish to insist on a distinction of some import- 
ance to the enquiry before us. 

We must distinguish between objective history and sub- 
jective history, between what has really taken place in the 
world, and what is supposed to have taken place. Ob- 
jective history is the succession of events as they would 
appear if investigated on the spot by a committee of men 
of thorough scientific training and free from preposses-" 

We know how the phonograph repeats as often as is 

Chap. I.] The Verification of A ncient History. 5 

desired words spoken into it, in the very tones in which 
they were spoken. If all the past history of the world 
were registered in a sort of infinite phonograph, and a com- 
mittee of savants had the power of rehearsing again and 
again any event of the past which interested them, with 
all the accompanying sights and sounds, then in time we 
might form an actual or objective history of the world, not 
indeed absolutely free from subjective colouring, since our 
savants would be after all but men, yet with very little 
colouring beyond such as belongs to man generically. 

Beside the stream of actual history of the past runs 
another stream of ideal history, the course not of that 
which has really taken place, but of that which is supposed 
to have taken place. Of course, speaking strictly, this is 
not one stream but many, for at every period there must 
have been the widest differences of opinion between men 
and men as to events which they witnessed, or of which 
they heard. But with every day the variety of these 
opinions would diminish, until after a while, one or two or 
three versions of each event would gain ascendancy and be 
perpetuated in books of history. Each nation or city or 
group of men would come to some rough agreement as 
to what they believed to have happened, and this belief 
would then take its place in what I have called ideal 
history. Of course nothing like all the versions of various 
events actually current have come down to us ; sometimes 
we have but one version, sometimes two, sometimes a 
dozen : while objective history is a single line, subjective 
history resembles a skein sometimes of one thread, some- 
times of two, sometimes of many. 

However, infinite complexity arises from the fact that 
actual and subjective history are ever acting and reacting 
one on another. It is of course the object of every his- 
torian to recover so far as is possible, the actual objective 
course of events. But the historian's duty is not limited 

New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap- 

to that. It does not in the least follow that if we can 
really settle the objective history of some event, we can 
afford to neglect the versions of it current at the time or 
subsequently. For it may often turn out that beliefs as to 
what took place, though not corresponding to the facts, 
yet exercised a greater political and social influence than 
the facts themselves. 

This will be clearer if we take an instance from Greek 
history. We do not know whether the Greek tradition of 
a war waged by the Greeks in common against Troy was 
based upon fact or not. To prove either that it had a real 
foundation or that it had no real foundation would be a 
great triumph for a scientific historian. But at the same 
time the decision of this point would not be of great im- 
portance in relation to subsequent Greek history. The 
contemporaries of Miltiades and of Alexander believed 
that the Trojan war was historical fact, and that belief of 
theirs exercised an enormous effect on their political and 
military actions. So, if not itself a fact, the Trojan war 
became the cause of innumerable facts. Even if it never 
took place it was far more powerful among the realities of 
the world than if it had taken place and been forgotten for 
want of a sacer vates. In fact, anyone would easily see 
what a blunderer the historian would be who made a 
demonstration of the non-reality of the Trojan war a 
ground for asserting that it had nothing to do with Greek 

It seemed the more necessary thus to insist on the value 
of ideal history in order to guard against the notion that 
the present book is in any way directed against the 
literary study of the ancient historians. It is true that it 
advocates as strongly as possible the most exact and 
painstaking attempt to discover the actual objective facts 
of past history. And it is true that its tendency is directed 
against the notion that objective history can be recovered 

Chap. I.] The Verification of Ancient History. 7 

from the ancient texts alone, without the discipline of 
existing facts. But even if we knew with absolute cer- 
tainty the entire objective course of ancient history, the 
texts of the great ancient historians would scarcely lose 
anything either in interest or importance. It is their 
modern commentators who would suffer, and not they. 
In some respects they would even gain, as their works 
would acquire a fresh psychologic interest, and shew us 
more clearly than before through what kinds of spectacles 
ancient historians looked at the events passing on around 
them, and on what principles they constructed their 

It is, however, almost entirely with objective history that 
we have at present to deal. The existing facts of the 
world take us beyond the mere subjective statements of 
historians, and enable us to investigate in a certain number 
of cases the actual realities of past history. 

And we are able to do this in two directions, first in 
regard to actual fact of past history, civil and military 
affairs, the dates of migrations and wars, of the founding 
of cities and their destruction, the very bone and frame- 
work of the past ; and, secondly, in regard to the back- 
ground of history, the state of manners and of arts, the 
customs of daily life and the cultus of the gods, the nature 
of houses, of arms, and clothing and the like. 

To take a single monument of the past for illustration. 
Everyone who has seen representations of that marvellous 
tapestry at Bayeux, on which is portrayed, by contem- 
porary hands, the Norman Conquest of England, will 
understand that it is naturally appealed to, alike when 
there is a question as to some of the actual facts of the ad- 
ventures of Harold and the Battle of Hastings, and when 
we wish more fully to realise the outward life of the times, 
the forms of towers and churches, of ships and camps, or 
the arms and equipment of Norman and of Saxon. 

New Chapters in Greek History, [Chap. I. 

We must briefly indicate the nature of the services 
rendered to ancient history in both these directions by 
existing fact of four classes : geographic, epigraphic, 
artistic, and numismatic. 

The geographical test is of all the easiest to apply to 
historical narrative, and that which requires the least 
special preparation. It may even, in these days of good 
maps, be applied in many cases without the necessity of 
foreign travel. But, of course, travel is a necessity for 
those who wish to make much use of it. 

Of all tests which can be applied to the woof of history, 
the geographical is the most objective. The facts on 
which it is based depend not at all on man and his fancies, 
but on the laws of physics and chemistry. Thus primarily 
they can be applied only to the recovery of objective 
history, and not immediately to ideal history. It may, in 
some cases, turn out that geographical fact is totally at 
variance with all the accounts of an event which have been 
handed down to us : in such a case we are almost helpless. 
But far more often the facts of geography will establish 
one and discredit the other of two contending views of an 

Let us take an instance or two. In the first volume of 
the Transactions of the American School at Athens, 
Professor Goodwin has published a masterly criticism of 
that account of the battle of Salamis which has generally 
passed current, and is adopted by Grote, Busolt, and other 
authorities. This account, based professedly upon the text 
of Herodotus, supposes that on the night before the battle 
the Persian fleet which had been stationed in the neighbour- 
hood of Athens, moved right along the shore of Attica to 
Eleusis, so as to block the Greek fleet into the opposite 

Chap. 1] The Verification of Ancient History. 9 

harbour of Salamis ; and that with morning it advanced in 
long line from the shore of Attica against the Greek fleet 
to destroy it ; but was beaten in a battle in the straits. 
Professor Goodwin's first object is to prove that this 
account cannot be reconciled with the geographical facts 
of the straits. The map in Grote's history, where it looks 
not impossible, is incorrectly drawn, and on so small a 
scale as to be merely misleading. The writer then goes 
on to consider the only alternative view which the con- 
figuration of the district permits ; namely, that the 
Persians did not blockade the Greeks by sailing through 
the straits between Attica and Salamis, but only blockaded 
the other end of the straits towards the Megarid by send- 
ing a squadron round the south coast of the island of 
Salamis. That this is what really took place he produces 
strong arguments to prove, for which I can only refer to 
the paper itself. And Professor Goodwin might have said, 
in the manner of many a hasty writer before and since, 
that if Herodotus gives a different account Herodotus 
must be wrong. But Mr. Goodwin is not content with so 
summary a dismissal of testimony ; so, after making out 
the course, which, according to his observation of geo- 
graphical facts, the battle must have taken, he turns again 
to our ancient authorities, Aeschylus, Herodotus and 
Ephorus, as followed by Diodorus, to see if the ideal 
account accepted by them was really in contradiction with 
fact. He tries to shew that the language of Diodorus 
(Ephorus) and of Aeschylus, who was probably an eye- 
witness of the battle, suits the version of the strategy 
which he proposes, better than the received version. 
And, finally he maintains that even the language of 
Herodotus is very easily to be reconciled with his own 

Of course it is only on the spot that one could finally 
test the arguments of Mr. Goodwin : and his views do not 

10 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. I. 

seem to be accepted by some of those who have since 
written on the subject. But whether he be right or wrong, 
in any case his method is admirable. His facts are worth 
thousands of pages of learned comments on ancient texts, 
if made without regard to things, and merely based on 
the interpretation of words. 

A second instance is furnished by the very careful in- 
vestigations of Gen. Cunningham as to the place and 
details of the battle between Alexander and Porus, pub- 
lished in the iirst volume of his Ancient Geography of 
India. It is true that Gen. Cunningham's discussion is 
marred by a want of critical power, for he does not make 
sufficient distinction between the trustworthy narrative of 
Arrian, based on the testimony of contemporaries, and the 
comparatively valueless statements of Curtius, But he 
redeems this fault by the care and thoroughness of his 
topographical studies, and the determination with which 
he himself marched on the roads which Alexander's army 
would take to reach the Indus, thus testing their practic- 
ability. His views appear to be in harmony with Arrian's 
narrative, though of course unless one has been on the spot 
one cannot fully judge of them. It is geographic survey 
and experiment only which can, in a case like this, 
establish a solid causeway across the marsh of uncertainty, 
rendering easier the labours of every scholar who shall in 
future concern himself with this passage of history. 

I should not omit to mention in this connexion the 
vigorous and repeated efforts of Prof Ramsay, Mr. Hogarth 
and others, to throw light on the confused geography of 
Asia Minor, and on the course taken by the roads in pre- 
historic, in Persian, and in Roman times. The expeditions 
of Xerxes, of the younger Cyrus, of Alexander, of Trajan, 
must all be wrapped in some degree of uncertainty as 
regards detail, until we more fully know the geography of 
Western Asia. 

Chap. I] The Verification of Ancient History. ii 


The second test is furnished by inscriptions. It is how- 
ever at once evident that ancient inscriptions can never 
furnish us with so objective a test for history as geo- 
graphical facts. There has perhaps been some misunder- 
standing on this point, and too pronounced a tendency in 
certain quarters to regard inscriptions as infallible, which 
they clearly are not. All that we can prove from the 
recovery of an inscription is, firstly, that a certain version 
of fact was current in a particular time and place, and 
secondly that this version was proclaimed by the public 
setting up of a document recording it. The value of the 
testimony of inscriptions must be judged by the same 
canons as that of any other testimony, and it can in some 
cases only help us to recover ideal, not objective history. 
But for instance, if the inscription contains a law or decree 
of any kind, it is an objective fact that the law or decree 
was passed and recorded by authority. 

As regards the earlier part of ancient history, the annals 
of the Egyptians and Assyrians, it is well known that in 
our days inscriptions are the main source of knowledge, 
and the writings of authors like Berosus, Diodorus, and 
even Herodotus are only used, with the greatest caution, 
to fill gaps, or to compare with the contemporary docu- 
ments, the mass of which is yearly growing upon us. As 
an instance of the abundance of this ancient material, there 
are in the British Museum thousands of un-read cuneiform 
tablets, so many in fact that it has been stated that they 
cannot be read and arranged in less than a century from 
now ; yet every year increases the stock. 

The importance of the cuneiform documents has come 
home to classical scholars in connection with the question 
of the credibility of Herodotus. Not many years ago 

12 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. I. 

critics were divided on the question whether the testimony 
of Herodotus or that of Ctesias was preferable in regard 
to the ancient history of the East, and the controversy 
would doubtless have been periodically revived, the " last 
new view " being on one side or the other alternately, but 
for the possibilities of verification now offered by cunei- 
form tablets, which have decided for all time that Ctesias 
was the impostor and Herodotus the true man. 

But with regard to the value of Greek inscriptions, the 
opinion of the learned is not so unanimous ; and it has 
sometimes been proclaimed with authority that Greek in- 
scriptions are of little value for Greek history. It is easy 
enough to understand how such an opinion could arise in 
the mind of a scholar who should approach Greek history 
only from the literary side. And it has thus much of truth 
in it, that it is but seldom that we can quote a statement 
of Herodotus or Thucydides, and then print on the oppo- 
site page the text of a Greek inscription which disproves 
that statement. Such instances can be found. For 
example, Grote rejected on the ground of the silence of 
Thucydides, the assertion of some ancient authorities that 
the tribute which the Athenians exacted from their allies 
was doubled towards the end of the Peloponnesian war. 
Nor could the question between Thucydides and the other 
writers have ever been settled but for the testimony of one 
of the inscriptions published by Kohler in his Urkunden 
zur Geschichte des Delisch-Attischen Bundes, which proves 
beyond question that such a raising of the tribute did 
occur. And the new fact tells against Grote's view of the 
character of the Athenian government. 

In regard to the services of inscriptions to the bone and 
framework of Greek history it is sufficient to refer to these 
tribute-inscriptions or to the Parian Chronicle now pre- 
served at Oxford. Yet it is generally allowed that the 
corrections in historical fact due to inscriptions are really 

Chap. I.] The Verification of Ancient History. ' 13 

but a small part of their use and importance to us. They 
are continually leading us into fields where the ancient 
historians are silent. They show us what the relations 
were between city and city, what laws were passed to 
govern the conduct of the citizens, what decrees in honour 
of benefactors. They reveal to us a hundred traits of 
manners and feeling, a hundred customs of religious cultus 
or of daily life. The ancient historians give us full de- 
scriptions of the manners and customs of the barbarous 
nations outside Greece, but naturally they assume a know- 
ledge of Greek manners in their readers, a knowledge 
necessarily existing at the time, but now barely to be 
gained by the most laborious application to literature, to 
art, and to inscriptions. And the facts thus acquired and 
held in the mind are as important for verifying ancient 
history as are the facts of Greek geography. They as it 
were throw a strong light on to the background of history, 
whereby we may see with far greater accuracy the progress 
of events which passes in the foreground. 

With inscriptions we should class, seeing that they are 
practically a kind of picture-writing or sculptured record, 
those historical reliefs which give us a professed represen- 
tation of events in ancient history. As the well-known 
historian of the Norman Conquest tests the literary 
accounts of the Battle of Hastings by comparing them 
with the Bayeux Tapestry ; so must those who would 
follow the history of the conquest of Dacia by Trajan 
compare the accounts of the Roman historians with the 
relief of the wonderful column which was set up to com- 
memorate that conquest while it was still fresh, and which 
still remains in modern Rome as a legacy of the ancient 
renown of the Roman arms. 

14 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. I. 


The third test which can be brought to bear on history, 
that of works of art and style, is of all tests the hardest to 
apply. It can only be applied by specialists, and even by 
them with great caution. But special study is gradually 
teaching us more and more how much men may be known 
by their works. The bone of a fossil animal is not more 
expressive to the palaeontologist than is a piece of pottery 
or a weapon to the student of mankind. And if the facts 
which we thus learn about man are vague and general, and 
do not extend to political detail, they are nevertheless very 
important in their way. For an instance of the application 
to history of this test of works we may go back almost to 
the origin of history itself, to an interesting statement of 
Thucydides in the eighth chapter of his first book.' He 
says that when in his own time the Athenians at Delos 
proceeded to purify the island by removing- the dead 
buried there, the majority of these corpse§'^M)eared 
to be of Carian nationality, to judge from the character 
of the arms buried with them, and the fashion of their 
interment. This statement of Thucydides is in itself 
thoroughly scientific. He speaks in just the same way as 
an archaeologist of the most modern stamp. It is true 
that if Thucydides had described, in but a dozen words; 
the fashion of arms and the manner of interment to which 
he refers, he would have laid us under still deeper obliga- 
tion. He was writing, as was very natural, rather for his 
contemporaries than for the barbarians of future ageSj, 
But even writing as he does, he gives us a clue : and 
more than one series of excavations in the last few years 
has been undertaken in order to ascertain more exactly 
Thucydides' meaning in this passage, and to discover what 
value is to be attached to his observation. 

Chap. I.] The Verification of Ancient History. 15 

In fact, not only this passage but^ the whole of the 
extremely valuable first fifteen chapters of Thucydides' 
first book cross and recross the path of classical archae- 
ology a score of times. Sometimes archaeological research 
conveys to us for the first time the full meaning of his 
words, sometimes it clearly shows him to have been im- 
perfectly informed upon certain points. Into all this I 
cannot here enter more fully. But there are few passages 
in any ancient author which gain more by the comparison 
with the testimony of the existing remains of ancient art 
and handicraft. In the following pages we shall have 
repeatedly to recur to Thucydidean statements as to early 
Greece ; therefore we need not at present dwell on them 
at greater length. 

The excavations on the Athenian Acropolis, of which 
below we give a brief account, serve greatly to clear and 
enrich our notions of the character of the rule of Peisi- 
stratus and of the doings of the Athenians just after the 
battle of Plataea. If other Greek sites were excavated in 
a manner as complete and methodical as Athens and 
Olympia, the additions to our knowledge of Greek history, 
both framework and background, would be incalculable. 


The fourth test is that of coins. Coins are at once works 
of art and inscriptions, and the certainty of their date 
commonly makes them especially useful to the historian. 
When we have series of coins most of which bear dates — 
like those of the Seleucidae of Syria, the kings of Parthia 
and the Roman emperors — it is obvious how valuable a 
means they afford for determining the chronology of the 
reigns of the kings and rulers who issued them. For 
instance the dates of the reigns of the Parthian kings 
Phraataces, Orodes II., and Vonones are fixed, on numis- 

1 6 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. I. 

matic testimony only, to the years B.C. 2 to A.D. 1 1 ; and 
these reigns date some important events of Roman 
history, and help us to determine the policy of Augustus 
on various occasions. As a rule the autonomous coins of 
Greece bear no dates, and their period can only be fixed 
by arguments of style and epigraphy. But the mints of 
Greece were so active that we are able in the case of 
hundreds of Greek cities to place beside their history, as^ 
recorded by ancient writers, a tolerably continuous numis- 
matic record with which it may be compared, and whereby 
it may be occasionally corrected, more often supplemented 
and expanded. To give detailed instances would involve 
too long a disquisition ; but a few cases of the correction 
or expansion of history by numismatic evidence may be 
summarily mentioned. We have, I believe, no record of a 
union of the people of the cities of Arcadia before the 
time when the Arcadian League was established by Epami- 
nondas. Yet if there had been no tradition of a political 
union it is improbable that the idea of founding one would 
have occurred to that great statesman. On turning to 
coins, we find, issuing probably from the mint of Heraea, 
a very extensive series belonging to the sixth and fifth 
centuries, the inscription of which, ^KpicahiKov, is sufficient 
to prove that some kind of federal union, involving at least 
the use of a common coinage, must have existed in 
Arcadia as early as the time of the Persian wars. As 
another instance we may take the city of Patrae in Achaia. 
The language of Polybius and Pausanias seems to imply 
that the city, after suffering severely at the time of the 
Gaulish invasion of Greece, was entirely destroyed at the 
time of the sack of Corinth in B.C. 146. Yet we learn 
that Mark Antony, when he sailed against Augustus,.; ' 
made Patrae his head-quarters. This apparent inconsis- 
tency is made less hopeless when we find from the 
evidence of the silver coins of Patrae that the city must 

Chap. I.] The Verification of Ancient History. 17 

have been commercially important and flourishing in the 
first century before the Christian era, doubtless in virtue 
of its position, which made it a convenient landing place 
of Roman officers coming to Greece. But by far the most 
remarkable addition made by numismatic evidence to 
ancient history is in the case of the Greek kingdoms in 
India in the second and first centuries before our era. 
Hellenic civilisation in India, cut off by the wedge of 
Parthian conquest from Syria and Egypt, ran its own 
course, and was little known of in the West. It has hardly 
any share in that history which consists of what is believed 
to have happened. The very idea of a Greek kingdom 
in India, though familiar to the archaeologist, is quite 
strange to most students of ancient history. Yet it was 
both powerful and extensive, and its results wide and far- 
reaching. It is probable that even Chinese and Japanese 
art owe a great part of their peculiar quality to Hellenic 
influence. And almost all that we know, or can ever 
know, about the Greek conquests in India, is derived from 
the testimony of coins and of rock-sculptures. 


Perhaps as good an instance as could be found of the 
manner in which excavation may sometimes correct and 
expand our notions of ancient history will be found in 
Mycenae. If we look at the index of Grote's History we 
shall find only one reference to a place in the text where 
Mycenae is mentioned. Turning to the passage we find 
that Mycenae is spoken of as the seat of a mythical race 
of kings. Apparently Grote did not know that the walls 
of Mycenae are still extant, nor did it occur to him that 
there are existing facts bearing the impress of the history 
of Mycenae ; we might fancy that Mycenae admitted of 
investigation no more than Atlantis or Sodom. Yet much 


New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. I. 

of the ancient history of Mycenae has been recovered in 
the course of its modern history. First Schliemann dis- 
covered the graves of its heroes, rich beyond imagination 
in works of early art ; and since then the Archaeological 
Society of Athens has brought to light on the Acropolis 
of the city the palace of its mighty rulers of prehistoric 
days, telling us much of their splendour and their customs. 
The fruits of the excavations tell also of the destruction of 
the city by the Argives, and of the colony which they sent 
to dwell within the mighty walls. They shew that that 
colony was established in the third century B.C., and 
remained for some centuries ; and some inscriptions 
recently unearthed tell of a transplanting of the inhabitants 
by Nabis, the tyrant of Sparta, to Lacedaemon, and of 
their subsequent return to their own city ; and inform us 
of their government and tribal divisions. " These inscrip- 
tions," writes their editor, " prove the inaccuracy of three 
ancient writers Strabo, Diodorus and Pausanias, who all 
assert that Mycenae was destroyed by the Argives after 
the Persian wars, and remained thenceforward an un- 
inhabited ruin." 

It is not unlikely that there may seem in our instances 
something pedantic and overstrained. Our interest in 
ancient history, it may be said, lies not in details but in 
large masses. It matters little how early the Arcadians 
acquired a political unity or what Nabis did to Mycenae; 
that which interests us is the constitution of Athens, the 
repulse of Persia, the brief bloom of Thebes. Life is not 
so long that we can spend our days over the unimportant 
fates of uninteresting tribes and towns. And I am quite 
ready to confess that there is some force in this objection, 
especially when urged by those who do not intend to 
give special attention to ancient history. But to a certain 
degree the objection may be met. 

In the first place, it is no less true as regards history 

Chap. I.] The Verification of Ancient History. 19 

than as regards physical science, that fact is fact, and as 
such sacred. And it is never possible to tell what facts 
may have a wide bearing. It continually happens — it has 
often happened within my experience — that archaeological 
facts to which their discoverers attached very small im- 
portance have been at once seized on by historians, by the 
men of general views, as of the highest value ; abundant 
instances may be found in Busolt's new history of Greece. 
Every fact is a thing of infinite possibilities ; it may lie 
unused for years or generations, until some new fact 
suddenly appears to make it fruitful. None of us can tell 
what is a negligible quantity in history ; and sometimes 
the- smallest-looking rock of reality will upset a whole 
cargo of received views and send them to limbo for ever. 
And in the second place, no one who was practically 
acquainted with the process of verifying history would ever 
say that his knowledge had not materially grown in the 
process. There are effects on knowledge, and there are 
effects on imagination which go far beyond the mere attain- 
ment of accuracy in detail. By this process the mind 
gains a grasp alike of the flesh and of the skeleton or 
bonework of history. Our bones are covered with flesh 
and skin ; but without the bones flesh and skin would 
lose their form and coherence ; and in the same way all 
that is morally instructive and intellectually stimulating in 
history rests on the arrangement of facts. A criterion the 
historian must have to decide is what is possible and what 
impossible ; and to the formation of that criterion the 
study of fact, epigraphic, geographic, and numismatic, tends 
very greatly. Such study, too, prunes away the excess of 
scepticism, and remedies a certain misology, a certain 
feeling that any one theory is about as defensible as any 
other, which is sometimes the result of too great an in- 
dulgence in general views. It is easy to start a new view 
: in history, and the starting of a new view confers such 

C 2 

20 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap- I. 

ready distinction, that apart from an occasional appeal to 
fact, it is hard to see how controversy would ever come to 
a pause. 

There is another point which must be mentioned when 
we compare the testimony of monuments with that of 
ancient historians. We are not likely to recover the works 
of Ephorus or Trogus Pompeius, or even the lost decades 
of Livy. Practically our stock of ancient historians is 
complete,* and has been complete for centuries. We can 
remelt by improved processes the slag left in previous 
treatments of the ore furnished by their writings, and so 
recover a little metal ; but fresh ore is not likely to reach 
us from that quarter; whereas the number of ancient 
historical monuments accessible to us is increasing con- 
tinually and rapidly, increasing at such a pace that the 
greatest of German scholars find the utmost difficulty in 
saving themselves from being overwhelmed by its mass. 
Boeckh's Corpus of Greek Inscriptions is but a few decades 
old; it contains about 10,000 inscriptions. In 1876 Mr. 
Newton estimated the number of extant inscriptions at 
20,000 to 30,000. In the last ten years tens of thousands 
have been added to the number, some of them of the 
greatest value, and of enormous length. In the case of 
other systematic collections of archaeological facts, edition 
succeeds edition continually and each contains so much 
new matter that its predecessors are virtually useless. 
Thus the proportion between data derived from existing 
fact and data derived from the ancient historians is con- 
tinually shifting, and always shifting in one direction. 

* I have left this passage as it was written before the appearance 
of the Athenian Constitution, although that discovery has to some 
extent contradicted it. We are scarcely likely to be so fortunate 
again ; and, in fact, the stir and freshness produced in Greek history 
by the new discovery is an apt illustration of the value of fresh matter 
in old-world studies. 

Chap. I.] The Verification of Ancient History. 21 

That archaeology can ever take the same place in regard 
to Greek history which it has taken in regard to the his- 
tory of Egypt and Assyria is of course quite out of the 
question ; and yet it is difficult to set a limit to its con- 
tinually increasing services, more especially to the history 
of the times before the Persian wars. We must also con- 
sider that existing facts bear testimony directly to the 
realities of objective history, which cannot be, the case 
with historical writings. If we were to recover the text of 
Ephorus, of course its value would be unlimited ; and yet 
in all probability it would increase rather than diminish 
our uncertainties as to the actual facts of Greek history, 
by giving us a new version which we should often find 
hard to reconcile with that which we at present accept. 
This has in fact been the result of the very important 
discovery of the Aristotelian Constitution of Athens. But 
every new archaeological fact which is discovered tends 
not to the raising, but to the end of controversy. To 
take one instance. Every attempt at a history of Parthia 
hitherto written has necessarily begun with a discussion of 
the date of the Parthian revolt against the Seleucidae, 
which various writers have placed in various years. If we 
recovered the history of Trogus Pompeius, his date would 
give but a new impetus to the discussion. But among the 
thousands of documents discovered in Babylonia by 
George Smith, one came to light which bore a double date, 
a date according both to the Seleucid era, and to the era 
of Parthian independence. In a moment the Gordian knot 
was cut ; and now we know that the date of Parthian in- 
dependence was B.C. 249-8. Against the testimony of this 
little clay tablet, no statement of an ancient historian 
cauld stand for an hour. 

Finally there is an influence on imagination exercised 
by the dealing with actual fact, which must not be lost 
sight of. History is verified by the intellect, but it is 

22 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. I. 

vivified by the imagination. The sight of a battle exercises 
a very different power on feeling and fancy, from the mere 
reading about one in a newspaper ; and if the newspaper 
account be read on the battle-field itself, the imagination 
will be greatly stimulated. Still greater will be the 
stimulus if dismounted cannon, scattered arms, and a 
ground ploughed by cannon balls add reality to the scene. 
In the same way Hiero of Syracuse becomes a far more 
real person to us as we look at the helmet which he dedi- 
cated at Olympia after his victory over the Etruscans at 
Cumae. And the historical reality of the victory of 
Plataea impresses itself more fully on us as we read on the 
bronze serpent of Constantinople the names of the Greek 
states which had a part in it. If the eye can see and the 
hand touch the results of the deeds of the ancients, we 
shall believe in them as we should never believe in them 
from merely reading our Herodotus and Thucydides. 
They come out of cloudland and become dwellers on our 
earth, men of like passions with ourselves, with human 
feelings and desires. 

The verification of history, of which I have hitherto 
spoken, must be the work of scholars and specialists. But 
the vivification of ancient history, of which I am now 
speaking, belongs as much or more to the ordinary student. 
We must now briefly consider history not as a great 
branch of knowledge, but as a means of education. 

The aspects in which history may be regarded are as 
many as the tendencies and prepossessions in the mind of 
man. One historian cares only to trace in the past the 
workings of political tendencies and forces ; another is 
absorbed in following the succession of phases and modes 
of civilisation ; another regards historical records as the 
chronicles of the struggles of races and national tempera- 
ments ; another sees in the annals of nations nothing but a 
series of biographies of great men. Yet perchance all 

Chap. I.] The Verification of Ancient History. 23 

would alike concede that one of the greatest -benefits 
bestowed by the muse of history on her votaries is that 
she lifts them out of the ordinary dull routine of a mono- 
tonous life, and conveys them through bygone scenes and 
to distant countries ; that she enlarges their ideas through 
the contemplation of states of civilisation different from 
the present ; that she widens their charity by laying out 
before them a vast panorama of forgotten beliefs and 
endeavours ; that she softens their hearts with emotions of 
pity and admiration for persons who have lived and died ; 
that she helps them to the goal of right action by mapping 
out the course whereby others have attained that goal. 

But the history which should enlighten the intellect and 
furnish wings to the imagination is not to be lightly ap- 
proached. Only by long and patient discipline alike of 
mind and fancy can the genius of history be mastered and 
compelled to do our bidding! To read the pages of his- 
torians, to remember the sequence of events and their 
dates ; this is something indeed, but it is only the first 
step in the study of history. The second step is to go 
back to original documents, to read the statements of 
writers who were contemporary with the events they 
record ; to pore over inscriptions, treaties, letters, charters ; 
to place side by side the statements of authorities who 
have accepted divergent stories as to certain occurrences, 
and from the comparison to attempt to elicit truth. The 
third step is to fuse the collected material in the fire of 
imagination, and to remould it into a new whole. 

Long and laborious is the historical training of the 
imagination. It demands the concentration of all the 
faculties, the absence of mean cares and uncongenial pur- 
suits. There are two methods whereby it may be accom- 
plished, two methods whereof either separately may partly 
avail, but only when the two are combined can rich and 
full and satisfactory results be attained. 

24 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. I. 

The first method or way is the perusal of the literature 
of the country whose history is the subject of our study. 
In the literature of each age the spirit of that age finds its 
freest and most splendid development. When we read the 
Odes of a Pindar, the Idylls of a Theocritus, we seem to 
hold a close communion with their minds, minds with 
which all the spirits of their contemporaries were in close 
concert. The poet is the mirror wherein the spirit of his 
time is reflected, and if we gaze on the mirror long enough 
and steadily enough the forms reflected in it become real, 
and we seem to dwell among them, to see with their eyes 
and feel with their hearts. But this is not only the happy 
privilege of poets. The condition of scientific thought in 
the best ages of Greece is as accurately reflected in the 
pages of Plato and Aristotle as are Greek emotions in the 
songs of the lyrical poets. In the works of the dramatists 
we see clearly the condition of an important branch of 
Greek art; we learn what thoughts passed across the 
minds of the audience which sat all day long in the 
theatre of Dionysus at Athens on the great festivals. The 
orations of Demosthenes and Tysias show, us to what 
passions the fiery orators of Athens could make a sure 
appeal, and on what prejudices they could safely play in 
order to arouse sympathy and win a cause. Thucydides 
brings before us in the liveliest form the working of the 
minds of Greek politicians, the objects of their statesmen, 
their views of political forces ; while on the other hand the 
older and nobler narrative of Herodotus exhibits the 
simple piety and open love of knowledge which dis- 
tinguished the Greeks of the generation which witnessed 
the repulse of the armies of Persia. 

The imagination may be roused by the poetry of the 
ancients and interested by their histories, but it can never 
be fairly seized and held captive amid the scenes of 
ancient life and history unless it be also approached 

Chap.!.] The Verification of Ancient History. 25 

through the senses. Not only must we sympathise with 
the emotions of the Greeks and Romans and share their 
aspirations, but we must also see with their eyes and feel 
with their hands, stand where they stood, and sail where 
they sailed. It would be most satisfactory if every 
student of classical literature could climb the Acrocorinthus 
and look across the narrow sea at the gleaming temples of 
Athens ; or could gaze from the Acropolis of Athens to 
where the highway of the .iEgean is blocked by .iEgina, the 
eye-sore of the Piraeus ; or could sail the beautiful .^Egean 
amid the clustering islands which seem to draw on the 
mariner from one to another until he reaches new lands 
and a fresh climate ; or could wander on the Palatine at 
Rome and trace the walls of early Rome, and observe the 
sites of the first temples of the Republic, and look away 
thence to the hills where stood in early times the little 
citadels which sheltered the enemies of the babyhood of 
Rome. All this I say is most desirable ; indeed I incline 
to think that no one who has not stood in Pompeii can 
imagine the vast gulf which separates ancient from modern 
manners, or understand how far less complex was that 
civilisation than ours. 

But all cannot travel, and even those who do travel need 
a special preparation to enable them to gain all that may 
be gained from a stay in lands of classical antiquity. The 
great substitute or complement for foreign travel is the 
study of archaeology, which, no less than travel, acts 
directly on sense and imagination, and gives to our con- 
ceptions of ancient history and manners a vivid reality 
which they would otherwise never attain. When we care- 
fully restore on architectural principles the Olympieium or 
the Erechtheium, when we follow the rise, development, 
and fall of Greek sculpture, when we examine and com- 
pare the innumerable vase-pictures which the piety of the 
ancients towards their dead has preserved to us, when we 

26 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. I. 

hold in our hands the gems wherewith heads of houses 
sealed their deeds and their cupboards, and the coins 
which they carried to the fish-market, we acquire through 
sense a connection with the ancients which is instinctive 
in character, and of a wondrous force. From feeling with 
them in small things we learn to appreciate them in 
greater, until their literature and history alike seem to rise 
from the grave of centuries and become once more alive. 

Surely there never lived a people on the life of which 
external surroundings worked with deeper effect than on 
the Greeks. Certainly no people was ever so surrounded 
on all sides by the works of its own hands, works which 
acted at every moment on the mind both consciously and 
unconsciously. In the Greece of history every city was 
full of temples and porticoes, and every portico, every 
agora, and every temple, was one vast storehouse full of 
works of great painters and sculptors. Nor were these 
intended merely to please the eye and intoxicate the 
senses. There was not a statue and not a relief which did 
not speak to all beholders of some incident of mythology, 
or some notable deed of history. Mythology and history 
alike stood there in concrete form in all the streets and 
public buildings of the country. The Greeks did not hear 
or read of the gods and the deeds of their own ancestors ; 
they saw them every day wherever they went. Love of 
their native city was not with them a sentiment, but a 
passion for this temple, that painting, that stoa. And 
when they went into their houses the same scenes which 
they had witnessed without, met them again within. The 
walls of their rooms, and the pottery of common use, were 
all painted with exploits of gods and men. Their very 
mirrors and pins were adorned with human figures, not 
one of which wanted its meaning. Thus to the Greeks the 
works of their artists were not merely things to admire, 
and symbols of worship, they were geography, history, 

Chap. I.] The Verification of Ancient History. 27 

religious teaching, and literature. For the common people 
the rare scrolls of parchment and papyrus which held the 
writings of authors were far out of reach ; it was less 
through the ear than through the eye that they received 
the education which raised them out of the narrow limits 
of the present. How then can any one aspire to under- 
stand Greek manners, Greek civilisation, Greek history, if 
he is ignorant of the chief source of Greek education, and 
knows nothing of what occupied constantly the largest 
part in the minds of the people .'' 

"Large and health-giving" is the phrase applied by a 
French statesman, who also stands in the first rank as 
an archaeologist, to the science of archaeology, and large 
and health-giving it is. Large because it treats of the 
outer or external side of all the works of man since he 
came into being, health-giving because it adds a venerable 
character to all the products of the energy of our fathers 
and ancestors natural and spiritual, impressing on us the 
continuity of life, and imparting a strongly developed 
sense of a common humanity. And most health-giving is 
it because it deals entirely with facts, not with words, 
with actual objects, and not with mere notions. To the 
archaeologist every fragment of wood, of stone, or of metal, 
on which a human hand has worked, is an embodiment of 
a thought, an illustration of a phase of civilisation. Every- 
thing has a meaning and a history, and tells of human 
effort, human progress, human culture. 

28 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. n. 



It is probable that no region in the world holds such 
treasures for archaeology as does Asia Minor. In respect 
alike to abundance of art remains and gain in historic 
knowledge we may expect in future to reap a harvest of 
unimagined richness in that most interesting country. 
There lie buried the remains of a score of civilisations 
which flourished successively or contemporaneously in the 
dawn of consecutive history, and furnish a ladder of tran- 
sition between the old-world empires on the banks of the 
Tigris and the Nile, and the new civilisation which takes 
its rise in Greece. And Asia Minor is in most parts still 
virgin soil to the excavator. Italy and South Russia are 
in great part worked out. Greece proper has of late years 
been so eagerly searched that her marvellous archaeological 
treasures are rapidly becoming known to us. But Asia 
Minor is to the historian what Africa is to the geographer, 
a vast new region of unknown possibilities, a continent the 
exhaustion of which lies beyond the limits of our foresight 
During the last decade most of the nations of Europe 
have at least gleaned in this rich field. The Germans have 
carried to Berlin the spoils of Pergamum, works of an art 
somewhat florid and sentimental but of marvellous power 
and variety. The Austrians have despatched a well- 
appointed mission to Lycia, and brought back the inter- 
esting sculptures of Gyol Bashi, which decorated a great 

Ohap. II.] Phrygia and Troas. 29 

tomb near Myra. The French have excavated at Myrina; 
the Americans at Assos. Schliemann has revealed city 
beneath city on the site of Hissarlik in the Troad. Even 
the Turks have been roused to emulation, and have deter- 
mined to secure a share in the discoveries. And besides 
excavations we have had energetic and learned travellers, 
penetrating the country in every direction : Humann and 
Hirschfeld, Benndorf and Puchstein, Paris and Sterrett, 
Ramsay and Hogarth have all added greatly to our know- 
ledge of the inner lands of Asia Minor and of the monu- 
ments which still remain above the surface of the soil. 

To England there has fallen but a moderate share in 
these achievements. If we had shewn more energy or 
been ready to spend money, our share in the rich spoil of 
the buried Hellenic cities might have been great ; but 
since Wood's excavations at Ephesus came to an end for 
want of funds, no excavations of any great extent have 
been carried on by Englishmen among the cities of the 
coast. On the other hand in the exploration of the 
interior they have taken a prominent part. In spite of 
fever and robbers, of general indifference and narrow 
financial resources. Professor Ramsay has plunged year 
by year into the heart of the country, accompanied by 
Mr. Hogarth and various younger companions, and has 
succeeded in greatly increasing our knowledge of the 
early inhabitants of the great central table-land from 
the earliest times to those of the Turks. His papers 
scattered through the pages of a multitude of learned 
Journals, are the best foundation for a study of a race 
whose history and whose relations to the Greeks have 
hitherto been made little of, the ancient inhabitants of 

In the works of the great Greek writers which have 
come down to us, notably, in the histories of Herodotus 
and Thucydides, the Phrygians figure but little. To the 

30 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. II. 

Greeks generally they were known but as the race whence 
most of their slaves were drawn, as a people branded with 
the qualities of slaves, idleness, cowardice, effeminacy. 
The few fables in regard to Phrygian antiquity which were 
current in Hellas were mainly concerned with Midas who 
turned all that he touched into gold, and Marsyas who 
rashly provoked Apollo to a musical contest, and paid for 
his temerity with his skin. From the Phrygians came 
those orgiastic forms of religious cult which were con- 
nected with the worship of Dionysus and of the Mother 
of the Gods, orgies which led alike to sensual excess and 
to hideous self-mutilations, to semi-religious frenzy and 
bestial immoralities, against which the strong good-sense 
of the better Greeks set itself at ail periods, though it 
could not deprive them of their attractions for the lowest 
of the people. And yet it was to this race sunk in cor- 
ruption, except when roused by frenzy, that the warlike 
Trojan stock belonged. Hector and Aeneas were Phry- 
gians ; and the most manly race of the ancient world, the 
Romans, were proud of their supposed descent from 
shepherds of Phrygia. 

This remarkable inconsistency may be solved if we 
adopt Mr. Ramsay's views.* He thinks that in the second 
millennium before the Christian era there was spread over . 
Asia Minor, perhaps over most of Greece and Italy also, 
a congeries of races, probably of a Semitic or Canaanite 
cast, races of no vigorous character and no advanced 
civilisation. We can still observe traces of the section of 
this group of races which dwelt in Asia Minor in language 
and in custom. The place-names ending in -nda and -sa, 
so common in many parts of Asia Minor, give us a hint 
as regards their language. They traced descent, as do all 
peoples at a certain stage of their progress, through the 

* Journal of Hellenic Studies, ix. 351. 

Chap. II.] Phrygia and Troas. 3 r 

mother and not through the father. As with nations in 
the stage of Mutterrecht their chief deity was female, the 
deity afterwards called by the Greeks Cybele, who was 
in their cult connected with the effeminate Attis. They 
were a people of shepherds and ploughmen, little skilled in 
the art of war, and using only inferior weapons. Many of 
them were grouped as temple-slaves about the shrines of 
the great female deities. 

In this age, according to Mr. Ramsay, the main seat of 
political power was the City of Pteria in Cappadocia, a 
city the extensive ruins of which at Boghaz Keui still 
attest its former power. The people of Pteria frequently 
engraved on the rocks the figures of their deities, ac- 
companying those figures by hieroglyphic signs of a 
peculiar kind. Similar reliefs and similar hieroglyphic 
inscriptions across Asia Minor and even on the West 
Coast, such for example as the figure of a warrior in the 
Kara Bel near Smyrna, seem to show that the civilisation 
and probably the dominion of Pteria was widely extended. 
Mr. Ramsay finds the best proof of the power of Pteria in 
the course of what was the main road of Northern Asia 
Minor, which seems to find its main reason in Pteria, and 
which passed the river Halys by a bridge, the mere 
erection of which at so early a period seems -to Mr. 
Ramsay a proof of no small skill in engineering. This 
view, it must be confessed, receives small support from 
ancient writers, of whom only Herodotus even mentions 
Pteria ; it is based upon geographical arguments and on 
existing facts. 

Into Asia Minor thus peopled there broke at some un- 
certain, but very early period, conquering warrior tribes 
kindred to the Greeks, who came across the Hellespont 
from Thrace. These tribes were known by various names, 
Lycians, Lydians, Phrygians, Garians, and the like ; but 
they probably differed but little one from the other in race 

32 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ir. 

and language. In place of the MiMerrecht they introduced 
descent through the father, an important step in early 
progress. Their chief deity was male, a thundering god 
like the Greek Zeus, known in Asia Minor as Papas 
(Father), or Bronton (Thunderer), or Osogo. They made 
their way chiefly by the superiority of their armour. 
Herodotus tells us that round shields and crested helmets 
were inventions of the Carians ; and no doubt the kindred 
tribes shared in these useful discoveries. Of the battles 
which they waged against the Semitic inhabitants we have 
a reflex in the curious story told in the Iliad * how Priam 
of Troy fought on the side of the Phrygians in a battle on 
the river Sangarius against the hosts of the Amazons ; 
since the Amazons would naturally represent to the imagi- 
nation of the invaders the Asiatic hosts which worshipped 
a goddess, and traced their descent through the mother. 
These warrior-tribes were for a time dominant, but were 
by degrees, as is always the case, absorbed into the body 
of the people among whom they dwelt. To their number 
would belong the valiant soldiers of Priam, the Carian 
auxiliaries of the Egyptians, the horsemen who made the 
strength of the army of Croesus, but though they had 
hegemony in Asia Minor, and planted there many cults 
and many customs, they never made the mass of the 
population. They were an aristocracy like the Spartans 
in Laconia and the Thessali in the plain of Thessaly. 

Such in outline is the view to which Mr. Ramsay has 
been led, partly by the researches of his predecessors, and 
partly by his own. It is by no means established truth, 
as he readily allows. There is a doubt whether we should 
attribute the hieroglyphics of Asia Minor to the influence 
of the Ca:ppadocians of Pteria, or of the Hittites of 
Carchemish. Nevertheless the view that the semi-Greek 

* III. 184. 

Chap. II.] Phrygia and Troas. 33 

races of Asia Minor were an invading and conquering 
aristocracy, a view in which Mr. Ramsay by no means 
stands alone, seems best to suit the facts of the case. To 
them belong the royal tombs of Asia Minor, notably of 
Lycia and Phrygia, with their inscriptions written in 
languages certainly of an Aryan character, and to them 
refer the warlike traditions which were handed down to 
the Greeks. But that the mass of the people of inner 
Asia Minor were connected rather with the Canaanites of 
the south than with the Thracians of the north seems 
clear. The Phrygian Cybele and Attis, the Trojan 
Aphrodite and Paris, are so nearly paralleled by the 
Astarte and Adonis of Syria as to indicate an identity 
of origin ; whereas the thundering god reminds us at once 
of the Zeus of Dodona who dwelt amid storms, and the 
Mountain-Zeus of Arcadia. The sacred cities of Asia 
Minor, Sardes and Comana and Pessinus and the rest, with 
their communities of temple-slaves dedicated to the service 
of a great nature-goddess, remind us of nothing Hellenic 
or European, but find a complete parallel in Syria. 

Yet we must allow that this view is by no means free 
from difficulties. Neither Greeks nor Romans distin- 
guished between the invaders and the primitive inhabi- 
tants. They give us no hint that the worship of Cybele 
belonged to a different race from that which produced the 
Phrygian kings, but on the contrary connect goddess and 
kings in legend. So it seems at any rate certain that in 
historical times there was a fusion of earlier and later 
inhabitants. The invaders must have adopted from the 
natives the worship of Cybele and imparted in return that 
of Bronton. And, as is usually the case, the older race as 
time went on asserted more strongly its preponderance. 

•Let us however pass from these somewhat vague specu- 
lations, and consider more in detail what is actually known 
in regard to the Phrygians, and in this narrower search we 


34 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. u. 

shall find the travels and researches of recent years of no 
small value. 

There are three districts in Asia Minor which are 
specially connected with the history of Phrygia. 

First there is the region dominated by the majestic and 
romantic Mount Sipylus, in the neighbourhood of Smyrna. 
This region was in Greek myth closely connected with the 
names of Tantalus and Pelops, those early Phrygian heroes 
who so largely enter into Greek myth. Everyone knows 
the story how Tantalus, richest and most luxurious of the 
kings of Asia, and so favoured by heaven as to become the 
guest-friend of the immortal gods, dared once in his im- 
piety to set before them human flesh at a banquet, the 
flesh of his own son Pelops. Everyone knows how he was 
punished for this impiety in the lower world, and how the 
son Pelops, restored to life, sought his fortune in the land 
of Greece, and found it at Olympia, where he won the 
hand of Hippodameia, and a kingdom destined to extend 
over all the region named after him the Peloponnese. 
Thucydides says that it was the power of Phrygian gold 
which extended the dominion of Pelops, and to this state- 
ment we shall have hereafter to return. With the migra- 
tion of Pelops the legendary history of that district ceases. 
The city of Tantalus was destroyed by an earthquake and 
hidden under the waters of Lake Saloe, and when we 
again hear of the region about Smyrna, it is as the centre 
of the dominions of the wealthy and powerful kings of 
Lydia : though it is of course very probable that there was 
scarcely any distinction between the races of the Phrygians 
and the Lydians. Lydian kings may quite well have 
carried on the sceptre of Tantalus. 

Pausanias, a native of Magnesia, a Greek city which lay 
at the foot of Sipylus, says * that in his time there existed 

* V. 13. 

Chap. II.] Phrygia and Troas. 35 

in his own country monuments of the kingdom of Tantalus 
and Pelops, " the lake of Tantalus which was named after 
him and his conspicuous tomb, and the Throne of Pelops 
which stands on Sipylus on the crest of the mountain 
above the temple of Mater Placiana." The identification 
of these localities has been the object of many excursions 
from Smyrna undertaken by Weber, Humann and Ram- 
say. A careful survey of the mountain and patient ex- 
cavation of all interesting spots would bring great gain to 
history, and probably settle finally the question of the 
historic value of the Tantalid legends. But the mountain 
is precipitous and a favourite haunt of brigands, and 
hitherto little has been placed on a basis of certainty. 
It is clear that the whole district is full of the traces of 
early occupation by men who built fortresses on the rocks, 
cut steps, and formed cisterns and caverns ; but in the 
absence of systematic excavation there is insufficient 
evidence who or what these men were. Two figures cut 
in the rock have attained a wide notoriety, the great statue 
of the Mother -of the Gods * which is supposed to be men- 
tioned in the Iliad, though in a late passage, and the relief 
in the Kara Bel which represents a warrior accompanied 
by a cartouche containing hieroglyphics. But both these 
works are not of the true Phrygian class but belong to the 
earlier populations. 

The second historic district, that which lies on the head- 
waters of the Maeander and the Sangarius, is the Greater 
Phrygia of history. In this region lay the most notable 
scenes of Phrygian history and legend ; the lake where 

* Of this the best representations are those published by Weber 
in Le Sipylus, and by Humann in the Athen. Mittheilungen, 1888. 
pi. I. Both Humann and Ramsay are disposed to think that the 
Niobe of the Iliad (xxiv. 614) is not this figure, but merely some 
group of rocks which bore a fancied resemblance to a human figure. 
Mr. Humann publishes {Ibid. p. 22) a kind of seat hewn out on the 
top of a lofty rock, which may w;ell be the legendary throne of Pelops. 

D 2 

36 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ir. 

Marsyas cut the reeds for his flutes ; the spring where 
Silenus used to drink, and where he was captured ; the 
city Gordium, where was preserved the wagon which had 
belonged to Gordias the legendary founder of the Phrygian 
monarchy ; the scene of the early battles with the Ama- 
zons ; the plains which were made rich by Phrygian 
ploughs, and which held the great cities the fame of which 
was known to the author of the Iliad* 

It would seem that this region was ruled in the eighth 
century before our aera by a dynasty of wealthy kings who' 
bore in turn the name of Gordias and of Midas. Hero- 
dotus speaks of a rich throne sent by one of these Midas 
kings to Delphi as the earliest gift received at that sacred 
place from any barbarian ruler. Of the reigns of these 
monarchs we have no annals. As they are not mentioned 
in the Iliad, where the Phrygian leaders are Otreus and 
Mygdon,t it is inferred that their rule did not begin before 
the ninth century. When the Cimmerians swept across 
Asia about B.C. 670, the Phrygians suffered terribly, and 
one of their kings committed suicide ; but the dynasty 
seems to have survived until the time of Croesus,t who 
became master of the country. To Cyrus the Phrygians 
seem to have submitted peaceably ; it would almost seem. 
that the well-armed warrior clan had by this time died out, 
for while the Lydians in the army of Xerxes are said to. 
have been armed like the Greeks, the Phrygians are stated 
to have borne only plaited leather helmets, with small 
shields, javelins and swords. In the same way the 
Thracians, whence these well-armed warrior tribes are 

* //. iii. 400. 

t It is, however, not impossible that Mygdon may be a variant 
fbrm of Midas. 

X See Herodotus, i. 35, for the charming story of the Phrygian 
Adrastus, son of Gordias, and grandson of Midas, who slew acci- 
dentally Atys, son of Croesus. Croesus addresses him as a scion of 
a reigning house. 

Chap. II.] Phrygia and Troas. yj 

supposed to have sprung, are described by Herodotus, and 
in fact are represented on Greek vases, as equipped in 
mere barbaric fashion. 

One of the reliefs discovered by Mr. Ramsay in the 
heart of Phrygia represents armed warriors with helmet 
and breastplate, in equipment almost undistinguishable 
from Greek hoplites ; and this relief must have been cut 
long before the time of Herodotus. Thus the theory of a 
conquering race of well-armed invaders is not without 
definite archaeological support. Such are our difficulties 
in these racial questions, which sometimes make the 
investigator feel as if he were climbing a hill of sand or 
wading through a deep morass. But perhaps in some 
cases our difficulties spring, as they may in this, from the 
modern intellectual prejudice which insists in looking for 
continuous progress in all forms of civilisation, and which 
is very loth to believe that the great discoveries which 
tend to the raising and preservation of nations can die out. 
This prejudice has to survive many shocks in dealing with 
ancient history ; since in many countries and for many 
ages the course of history runs steadily in a downward 
direction. As to Thrace in particular, classical Greek 
writers were aware that the country had greatly declined 
in their days in the direction of barbarism, that the country 
of Orpheus had ceased to be a place of poets, and the 
orderly army of Rhesus had given place to hordes of 
disorderly cavalry. 

Thus in historic times the warlike and manly character 
of the Phrygian race was passed away ; to the Greeks they 
were henceforth known as the most submissive of slaves, 
and very useful in agriculture. Their devotion to the 
plough may be traced in almost the only fragment of their 
legislation which survives, the law which punished with 
death the crimes of slaying a ploughing ox or stealing a 
plough. Like modern peasants of Asia, they were ready 

^8 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. II. 

to accept any ruler who left them the bare means of living ; 
and so when early in the third century B.C. the Gauls made 
a settlement in Asia Minor, they seized a great part of 
Phrygia, which hereafter bore their name as Galatia. 

We learn that one Midas took as his queen Demodica, 
daughter of Agamemnon of Cyme ; and this makes it 
probable that through Cyme the Phrygians would receive 
letters and something of Greek culture, a probability which 
has been confirmed in Mr. Ramsay's opinion by the dis- 
coveries of Phrygian inscriptions. 

The legends which the Greeks received from Phrygia 
belong to this inland region, and they bear a uniform 
character of melancholy. Passing the well known stories 
of Marsyas and of Midas, we have the repulsive legend of 
the effeminate Attis, by whose example the priests of the 
Mother-Goddess justified their self-mutilation, and who 
was made into a pine tree. Then there is the curious 
agricultural myth of Lityerses, a son of Midas, a reaper 
who challenged all passing strangers to a contest in 
reaping, and when they failed slew them and dismembered 
their bodies, in which fashion he was himself treated by 
Herakles. The great antiquity of the country was proved 
by legends of the deluge which was said to have happened 
on the death of a king Nannacus. The Phrygians even 
had a legend of the ark which rested near Celaenae, and 
coins of Apamea struck in the reign of the Emperor 
Philip show that they regarded their traditions as identical 
with the Jewish legend which centres in Noah. It is more 
than likely that most or all of these stories belong to 
the early, probably Semitic, population of Phrygia; in 
antiquity there was nothing which conquerors so readily 
accepted from the conquered as religious cults and heroic 
myths. There is no tale of victorious kings or of foreign 
invasion, all the legends have reference to agriculture, 
music, and religion. 

Chap. II.] Phrygia and Troas. 39 

It is remarkable that features of the Phrygian character 
persist even to our days. Mr. Ramsay has remarked how 
the mixture of ascetic hardness and unbridled ecstasy 
which marked the Montanists among early Christian sects 
may be derived from their Phrygian origin ; and under 
Mohammedan rule the whirling and howling dervishes 
keep up the tradition, and prove that deeply-seated 
national characteristics survive through all changes of 
religion. It is by no means unlikely that much of the 
blood of the early inhabitants may still run in the veins 
of the modern dwellers in Asia Minor. 

To Colonel Leake belongs the credit of the first great 
discovery of Phrygian monuments in the valley of the 
Sangarius. Near Nacoleia he lighted on a rock the whole 
front of which had been scarped in the form of a temple- 
front, and carved with regular geometrical patterns with 
an imitative door in the midst. Around ran an inscription 
in letters closely resembling the Greek, recording the exe- 
cution of the work by one Attes in honour or in memory 
of Midas. It was the first clear revelation of the Phrygian 
language, and it seemed evidently the tomb of one of the 
royal line of the country. It is true that some recent 
writers, including M. Perrot,* are disposed to see in the 
monument rather the shrine of a deity than the tomb of a 
monarch. Their main ground is that no actual sepulchral 
chamber is visible. But it may well be concealed : and the 
genius of the Phrygian race, which turned naturally in the 
direction of the commemoration of ancestors, together with 
the number of monuments in the neighbourhood which are 
certainly tombs, prevent us from following these writers. 
We hold it to be certainly a royal sepulchre. And this 
tomb appears to have been close to a city which may be 

* Histoire de VArt dans PAntiquiti, vol. v. ; Perse, Fhrygie, &c., 
pp. 89, loi, 181. M. Perrot gives the best general account which is 
accessible of Phrygia and its monuments. 

40 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. II 

judged from the extent of its remains to have been the 
capital of the Sangarian Phrygia. This city stands on a 
rocky plateau of which the general level is some 200 feet 
above that of the plain below.* " The rock is a rather 
soft and friable volcanic stone which splits easily in 
vertical surfaces ; and either on this account or through 
scarping, or probably through both causes combined, the 
plateau is almost entirely surrounded by vertical faces of 
rock, absolutely inaccessible, except where a break occurs. 
Some of these breaks are wholly or in part modern, but 
many of them are ancient, and one can trace distinctly on 
each side of these old gaps the lines where the wall that 
filled up the gap fitted into the rock. Besides this there 
was a parapet built along the edge of the plateau." It is a 
thousand pities that we have yet to wait to an unknown 
future for the results which a careful excavation of this 
capital of an old-world dynasty could not fail to furnish. 

The various expeditions of Stewart, Texier, Perrot and 
Ramsay have gradually revealed an extraordinary abund- 
ance of rock-cut tombs throughout the region ranging in 
date over the whole, or nearly the whole, of the twelve 
hundred years of the Phrygian, Persian, Greek and Roman 
rule. We may briefly indicate the classes into which these 
tombs fall, if we arrange them by the style and decoration 
of their fagades. According to Perrot the oldest class is 
represented by a fagade at Delikli-tash.f which is not 
unlike that of an early Greek temple without the pediment. 
It may perhaps at first be surprising to find a front of 
this form given to about the eighth century. But in favour 
of M. Perrot's view may be cited an interesting piece of 
evidence, which has hitherto been insufficiently considered. 
In a relief at Khorsabad, which represents the taking by 
King Sargon of the city of Monsasir in Armenia, we have 

* Ramsay in Journ. Hell. Stud., vol. ix. p. 376. 
t Perrot, vol. v., p. 90. 

Chap. II.] Phrygia and Troas. 41 

a representation of the temple of the god Haldia,* and it is 
not a little surprising to find that it stood in almost exactly 
the form of a Greek hexastyle temple, with pediment. 
This remarkable building, quite unique among the reliefs 
of Assyria, seems to prove that the form of the Greek 
temple, like many other things, came to the Greeks through 
Asia Minor ; and the fagades of Phrygian tombs are like 
footsteps which the idea has left in its passage across the 
country from east to west. 

The next group consists of the tombs which resem.ble 
that of Midas, and bear on their fronts a variety of geo- 
metrical patterns, lozenges, crosses and maeanders. Many 
such tombs have been found in the neighbourhood of the 
Midas city, and the inscriptions which they bear shew in 
whose honour or memory they were erected. It has been 
suggested that the custom of covering the fagade of a 
tomb with patterns of this kind must arise from the inten- 
tion of reproducing on a front of stone the patterns of the 
carpets which might well be hung over the doorway of a 
dwelling. Mr. Ramsay, however, thinks that the pattern 
bears a closer resemblance to tile-work ; and it may 
perhaps be suggested that it bears a closer likeness still to 
the patterns natural to matting, as we may see them any 
day by looking under our feet, and that matting would 
form a very natural screen to an open door. 

The third class of tombs is best represented by those 
■remarkable rock-sepulchres guarded by gigantic carved 
lions which Mr. Ramsay found at Ayazinn, and which he 
justly considers of the highest interest. The most interest- 
ing of these, called by Mr. Ramsay the broken lion-tomb,t 
is a large chapel carved out of the solid rock. It is 
adorned on two of its outer faces with reliefs representing 
rampant lions on a colossal scale, and in a vigorous style 

* Botta, Monuments de Ninive, ii. pi. 141 ; Perrot, vol. ii., p. 410. 
t See the Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. ix. 

42 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. II. 

of archaic art, and with a still more interesting group 
representing warriors armed with a panoply like that of 
the Greeks. Within are curious pillars with shell-like 
capital. Near this tomb stands another over which are 
sculptured two enormous lions face to face, almost in the 
attitude of those over the lion-gate of Mycenae, but with 
cubs at their feet. In the hills and plains around are 
strewn a variety of tombs, mostly of later date, indeed, 
in some cases clearly belonging to the Hellenistic or 
even the Roman age; the whole forming a vast series 
reaching from the rise of the Phrygian power in Asia to 
Christian times. And among the Phrygian tombs we find 
here and there rock-reliefs and hieroglyphics such as are 
associated with the civilisation of Pteria, and which are 
probably of an earlier date than anything Phrygian. 

It is clearly impossible here to discuss in any detail 
these important archaeological data. Mr. Ramsay and 
M. Perrot are agreed that Phrygian art takes its rise from 
that of Cappadocia, usually called Hittite. But they differ 
considerably in their assignment of the period of that art. 
Mr. Ramsay thinks that the lion-tombs are the earliest, 
dating from the first days of the dynasty of Gordias and 
Midas ; and that later the Phrygians developed the geo- 
metrical style of decoration, such as that used on the 
Midas-tomb, which must be given to the time just before 
the Cimmerian invasion of about 675. M. Perrot, on the 
contrary, considers that the tombs of geometrical pattern 
are earlier, dating perhaps from the eighth century; 
whereas the tombs at Ayazinn, with their reliefs of lions 
and of warriors shew the influence of Greek art, and can 
scarcely be placed eariier than the sixth century.* We 

* The lions M. Perrot considers as copies derived through Car- 
chemish of the lions of Assyria. Assyrian art, he observes, is the only 
one wherein lions are represented vi'ith energy and fidelity to nature. 
It is quite true that the lions of Assyria are far superior to those of 

Chap. II.] Phrygiq. and Troas. 43 

cannot venture to express an opinion as to the relative 
value of these views. In fact it must be allowed that most 
of the representations hitherto pviblished of the Phrygian 
monuments, except in the few cases where they are based 
upon photographs, are so unsatisfactory and wanting in 
style that they do not render any final opinion possible. 

Inscriptions of the Roman age, which abound in Phrygia, 
also furnish us with a mine, as yet but little worked, of 
information as to the language and customs of the people. 
Very important in particular are the epitaphs which appear 
on the late tombs of this people, some of them containing 
imprecatory formulae in an unknown tongue which, cast a 
backward light on the graves of earlier times. They are 
a curious mixture of records of the dead and dedications 
to the gods. After recording the names of the dead and 
of the erector of the tomb, they often conclude with some 
such phrase as " dedicated to Zeus Bronton," or " payment 
of a vow to Papas," or "to the Mother of the Gods on 
behalf of so and so." It seems that in Phrygian belief 
those who died became in some sense identified with the 
national divinities, losing their lives to become absorbed 
in one higher and more general. This is quite typical of 
what we know of the Phrygians, a race soft and cowardly, 
easily reduced in this life by stronger peoples to penury 
and wretchedness, and consoling themselves by the ecstatic 
joys of their corybantic religion, and by the hope of 
escaping through the gate of death into another and a 
wider sphere. In a nation like this we must naturally 
suppose that the blood of a race kindred to the Greeks 
was almost lost amid that of the communities of temple- 
slaves of pre-Aryan race, of which we find so many traces 
throughout Asia Minor. 

The main interest which attaches to Phrygia, after all, 

Greece, or, indeed, to any which appear in art until the present 

44 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. II. 

rests on the legends which connect it in early days with 
Greece, and notably with Argolis. But any consideration 
of this matter may best be postponed until we have dealt 
with the wonderful discoveries of recent years at Tiryns 
and at Mycenae. Meantime some account must be given 
of Hissarlik and the great questions connected with that 
interesting site. 

The third district connected with Phrygian history is the 
Troad. It is sufficiently clear, even from the Homeric 
poems, that there was no racial difference between Trojan 
and Phrygian. Hecuba was a Phrygian princess, and 
Aphrodite, when she appears to Anchises in the Homeric 
Hymn in mortal guise, calls herself a daughter of a 
Phrygian king. Priam in his youth had fought among the 
Phrygians on the Sangarius ; and Hesychius tells us that 
the name Hector was Phrygian. The Romans notoriously 
did not distinguish between Trojan and Phrygian ; and 
if the languages of the kindred tribes varied, it varied prob- 
ably only as in days before the invention of writing the 
tongues of parallel tribes of the same race always vary. 
And in later historic times we find the district of Troas 
called Lesser Phrygia : Xenophon tells us that in the time 
of Cyrus it was under the rule of an independent king. 
With regard to the Troad we have precisely that archaeo- 
logical evidence which is wanting in case of Sipylus. Dr. 
Schliemann's excavations at Hissarlik have given us a 
mass of historical data as to the succession of inhabitants 
in this region. 

It is unnecessary that I should here repeat the thrice- 
told stpry of the fates of Troy. Everyone knows how 
Dardanus, the son of Zeus, founded his city on the spurs 
of Mount Ida. His son Ilus founded " in the plain," as 
we are told, the city of Ilium ; and Ilus' son Laomedon 
had the good fortune to receive the assistance of the 
immortal gods in building the walls of the city, which 

Chap. II.] Phrygia and Troas. 45 

" like a mist rose into towers." Like Tantalus, he abused 
the friendship of Heaven ; and later when Herakles had 
slain for him the sea monster sent by Poseidon, he de- 
frauded the hero of his rightful reward. Herakles, with 
his friend Telamon, sacked Troy, and placed on the throne 
Priam, the only son of Laomedon who respected righteous 
dealing. But Priam's son, Paris or Alexander, again fell 
into crime, carrying off from Greece the beauteous Helen, 
and bringing on the great Trojan war, which has been for 
all time the heroic model of military exploit. The only 
facts of the legendary history which it is necessary to 
bring into the field of possible history, and to compare 
with the results of excavation, are the twice repeated 
destruction of the city by Hellenic foes, and the circum- 
stance that it was situated in the plain. 

The excavations, which are still proceeding in spite of 
Dr. Schliemann's lamented death, must be mentioned, but 
must be mentioned with caution. In the first place, they 
are not complete ; in the second place, in the course of 
them Dr. Schliemann executed more than once a com- 
plete change of front in his views ; in the third place, the 
walls of recovered Troy, if so they must be called, have 
once more been besieged by a host of Hellenes, and in the 
din of controversy historic science does not always flourish. 
No one can deny that the recent excavations have fur- 
nished to anthropology and to history most valuable in- 
formation. They have shewn how the little hill of 
Hissarlik was occupied during successive ages, reaching 
back far into the second millennium B.C., by successive 
strata of inhabitants. For a time the grade of civilisation 
which the superimposed layers of remains shew to have 
been reached by the builders of fortress after fortress rises. 
In the case of the second * city from the bottom, we can 

* So called in Troja and in Dr. Schuchhardt's recent work on 
Schliemann's discoveries. In Ilios it was called the third city. 

46 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. II. 

trace massive walls and gates, we can identify the 
foundations of a palace ; and in the numerous works of 
the crafts of potter and smith which have been recovered 
we can discern proof of considerable proficiency in the arts 
of life. We can recover a mirror of a state of society in 
which indeed letters, coins, iron, all the great inventions of ^ 
rising civiHsation, were unknown, yet which could scarcely 
be called void of all civilisation or wanting in vigorous' 

This city had more than one distinct period of existence, 
and perished, perhaps more than once, in violent conflagra- 
tion ; and on the site we can trace for ages afterwards the 
abode of communities far inferior in wealth, in power, and 
in arts, to that which had been destroyed, weak and un- 
settled tribes of no magnitude or cohesion, until at last we 
reach the beginning of the historic age, and once more 
strike into the stream of progress, a stream destined in 
this case to flow steadily onwards, since Greece has now 
lifted the human race for all time to a new level. Then we 
come into clear daylight. We know that we are survey- 
ing the remains of the city which Alexander the Great 
planned, and which his general, Lysimachus, erected ; the 
new Ilium, which was in the intention of its founders to 
have been a worthy successor to the Ilium of old, and to 
have made amends to Athena for the loss of the temple 
where the Trojan women placed their offerings. A few 
more careful excavations of this kind would put us in our 
knowledge of human stratification in Asia Minor almost 
in the position which geologists hold in regard to the 
strata of the earth. They would place the science of pre- 
historic archaeology on a new level. But that which 
concerns us at the moment, the relation of the remains 
at Hissarlik to the story of Troy is even now more obscure 
than one could have hoped. 

If the legend of the Trojan War was based, as it almost 

Chap. II.] Phrygia and Troas. 47 

certainly was based, on sonae events which actually 
happened, then there can be little doubt that the Troy 
which was besieged was the second or burnt city, which 
was built on the hill of Hissarlik, and the massive walls 
and gates of which still exist in stately array. Dr. Schlie- 
mann claims to have proved, by a series of excavations 
and surveys, that on no other site in the whole district 
there stood important fortifications in the prehistoric age ; 
and, further, that of the successive cities which occupied the 
plateau of Hissarlik, the second city alone, which perished 
in a violent conflagration, was of sufficient importance to 
dominate the district round, and to shelter a warlike and 
powerful royal house. On the same site stood the later 
Ilium of the Greeks ; thither went up Xerxes and Alexander 
the Great to sacrifice to the Ilian Athena ; and in fact until 
the age of Alexandrian learning, the general voice of 
antiquity pointed out the hill of Hissarlik as the site of the 
city which so long defied the host of Agamemnon. 

Further, as Schuchhardt ably argue.s, the Homeric de- 
scriptions of battles before the city gates, suit in the main 
the site of Hissarlik. A plain of three miles in width 
separates the city from the shore, and this plain is bisected 
by the ancient bed of the Scamander, which is joined to 
the north of the city by a stream which may be the 
Homeric Simois. It is true that Demetrius of Scepsis 
and some modern writers have maintained this whole 
plain to be a recent alluvial deposit ; but against this con- 
tention we must set the verdict of Dr. Virchow, that it is 
by no means recent land : and we know as a fact that it 
has been as it now is for 2000 years. Towards this plain 
open the principal gates of the citadel. The Hellespont, 
on which lay, according to tradition, the Greek tents, is 
a little further from the hill, and reached by following the 
natural line of road, the course of the Scamander. Bounar- 
bashi, which has been put forward as a rival claimant to 

48 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. n. 

occupying the site of Ilium, cannot be said to stand, as 
did Ilium, " in the plain." 

Turning to the question how far the Iliad corresponds 
in detail with existing fact, we reach many difficulties. 
It seems to every visitor that the little citadel on Hissarlik, 
which was but some 330 feet in diameter, cannot have 
enclosed the noble palace of Priam, or have sheltered the 
ranks of his tributaries. The little plain towards the sea 
seems too narrow to have contained the exploits of 
Achilles, and the long array of the Achaean host. And 
carping critics go further, and point out many small dis- 
crepancies. There is no place near the gate where rise, 
as in the Homeric descriptions, two fountains of water, 
one cold and one warm. There is no rising ground in the 
plain like the 6pw(jfxo<i iretiLoio on which Hector encamped 
at night, when he intended in the morning to drive the 
Greeks into the sea. Achilles could not have pursued 
Hector thrice round the citadel on Hissarlik without cross- 
ing the ridge which connects it with the hill behind. Such 
and many other difficulties have been raised by critics, 
from Demetrius of Scepsis onwards, who wished to prove 
that Troy must have had another site. 

From the point which we have in these days reached 
in Homeric criticism, it should be easy to set aside 
trifling objections of this kind. It should be enough to 
say that it is ridiculous to treat the Iliad as if it were an 
accurate record. The race of Achilles round the walls is 
like the deeds of Diomedes when he overthrows Ares and 
wounds Aphrodite in the hand. The poet of the Iliad 
probably was not perfectly informed as to the geography 
of the Trojan plain ; and could not limit the flight of 
Pegasus by the bounds of knowledge. When Victor Hugo 
describes the Battle of Waterloo, he makes the whole event 
turn on the interposition of a ditch, which, as I under- 
stand, other people cannot find : but that is no sound 

Chap. II.] Phrygia and Troas. 49 

proof that the battle was really fought somewhere else. 
And it is distinctly the character of Homeric poetry to 
magnify and exalt everything it touches. It turns farm- 
houses into palaces, bronze into gold, men into godlike 
heroes. Why should it not turn 10,000 men into 100,000, 
or a citadel into a broad-streeted city ? In the same way, 
when the Iliad speaks of the windy heights of Troy, and 
even of the beetling crags on which the city stood, these 
phrases are by no means inconsistent with the facts of 
Hissarlik, or outside the range of Homeric exaggeration. 
It is partly a natural tendency of the imagination of the 
Homeric age, and partly a mere trick of language which 
makes the poet project everything on a multiplied scale. 
Our old English ballads have much the same tendency. 
And what is the Homeric exaggeration compared to that 
of Virgil or of Milton ? 

Unfortunately Dr. Schliemann and his assistants, instead 
of taking this sound and rational line of argument, have 
been led into an endeavour to fight their adversaries with 
their own weapons. If the citadel on Hissarlik was not 
large enough for Troy, there must have been a lower city 
of larger size lying at the foot of the hill. Of this lower 
city there is no trace, except one doubtful piece of wall, 
but this again can without difficulty be accounted for. If 
there are no warm springs near the city gate, there is at 
all events one at the source of Scamander in the hills 
above. Even Achilles must have his feat made possible 
by proving that the ridge he had to cross in his course 
round the city was in ancient times forty feet lower than 
it is now. As if such a hero as Achilles would care for 
forty feet more or less ! 

There is no real historic difficulty in the supposition 
that, in Greek prehistoric days, Hellenic chiefs led an 
army to the Trojan plain, encamped on the Hellespont, 
laid siege to the city on the Hill of Hissarlik, daily fought 


50 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. II. 

in the plain with the defenders, and at last took their 
citadel and burnt it. We know from the testimony of the 
reliefs at Medinet Abu in Egypt, that in the thirteenth and 
twelfth centuries B.C. the land of the Nile was invaded 
repeatedly by swarms of warriors who came in ships 
from the islands and the coasts of the Aegean Sea ; and 
in the lists of tribal names of these barbarians some 
Egyptologists recognize the name of the Achaeans. The 
period would seem to have been a swarming-time of the 
Hellenic and kindred races, and they may well then have 
made an expedition of which in later days they would not 
have been capable. But of course it does not follow, 
because such an expedition was possible, that it was 
actual. We can suppose the story of the Iliad to be so 
complete a transformation of some forgotten facts as to 
have no historic character ; but in my opinion this view is 

After considering internal evidence and historical prob- 
abilities, let us next turn to the archaeological evidence. 
There are great difficulties in supposing that the second 
or burnt city on the site of HissarlikVas destroyed at 
about the traditional date of the Trojan war by Achaean 
Greeks. In the first place, the date of the remains of that 
city, though it cannot be with certainty fixed, must be 
placed too early. The fourteenth century B.C. is I believe 
the most modern date which has been suggested ; most 
archaeologists would go back further still. And among 
these remains there is nothing which bears kinship to any 
of the monuments of Phrygia which have come down to 
us, or which we could fairly assign to a people such as the 
Homeric Trojans. And the difficulties thicken when we 
compare with the relics at Hissarlik those of Mycenae and 
Tiryns, which we have reason, as will be shewn later, to 
regard as typical of the civilisation of the Achaeans. 

In this matter at present the evidence seems self-contra- 

Chap. II.] 

Phrygia and Troas. 


dictory. The general remains of the burnt city, such as 
the vases which are moulded in the form of a human face, 
the terra-cotta disks with their curious devices, even the 
large treasure of gold and silver objects found by the 
walls, and commonly called the Treasure of Priam, all 
appear to belong not merely to a different civilisation to 
that of Mycenae and Tiryns, but also to a far earlier and 
ruder age^. Most archaeologists do not hesitate to say that 
the burnt city of Ilium must have perished long before the 
palace of Tiryns was built, or the graves at Mycenae dug. 
I have myself more than once expressed this view in 
printed papers : and on the whole it is supported by the 
mass of our evidence. Helbig remarks * that the scanty 


use of the potter's wheel, and the primitive forms of the 
pottery show the backward character of the Ilian civilisa- 
tion : this pottery contrasts markedly with the far more 

* Homerische Epos, 2nd ed., p. 47. 

E 2 

52 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. n. 

highly finished ware of the Argolis. The influence of 
Egypt or of Phoenicia, so clearly marked at Mycenae, 
fails altogether at Hissarlik. The inhabitants used no 
swords like those of Mycenae, but only short daggers, and 
a number of their utensils, axes, hammers, knives, and saws, 
were of stone ; while at Mycenae stone is in most cases, 
save for the points of arrows, superseded. 

But at the same time there are a few pieces of evidence 
which seem to connect Ilium with the cities of Argolis as 
regards date, as well as regards customs. In various spots, 
which are supposed to mark them as belonging to the civi- 
lisation of the burnt city, were found a few of those 
circular gold-leaves with impressed patterns of which so 
many were found at Mycenae, as well as bracelets, hair- 
pins and other jewels (p. 51), which were decorated with 
patterns of Mycenaean character. Since, however, in 
archaeology it is always unsafe to draw conclusions from a 
few specimens, this piece of evidence cannot claim great 
weight. It is as regards importance quite outweighed by 
another. On the summit of the hill at Hissarlik, and 
in a line with the principal gate, were found the founda- 
tions of a palace closely resembling those of Tiryns and . 
Mycenae. It was divided into two parts, for men and 
women ; it was approached through propylaea, and in 
the main hall stood a hearth just where it stands at 
Tiryns. Of course we cannot tell how long this kind 
of palace may have remained the usual abode of a kin^ 
in the cities bordering the Aegean ; such an arrangement 
may be in some cities older by ages than in others. Yet 
the fact we have mentioned is remarkable ; and it may be 
doubted whether considerable value ought not to be 
attached to it. 

If we sum up and weigh the evidence of various kinds as 
regards the historic character of the Trojan war, we must 
confess that at present it does ncj^ compel us to any posi- 

Chap, n.] 

Phrygia and Troas. 


tive conclusion. It is probable that the author of the Iliad 
had some historic siege before his mind, and that the place 
besieged stood upon the Hill of Hissarlik. Yet the only 
important fortress which occupied that spot in prehistoric 
times perished in a conflagration long before the assumed 




date of the Trojan war, and before the rise of the wealthy- 
Greek kings of Mycenae ; nor do its inhabitants seem to 
have been of Trojan stock, or of a race kindred to the 
Greeks. If we could suppose that the author of the Iliad 
converted traditions of a siege and capture by the in- 
vading Trojans, of Ilium when it was still in the hands of 
a Syro-Cappadocian population, into his own story of a 

54 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. II. 

siege and capture of the Trojan Ilium by the Greeks, a 
solution would be reached very satisfactory to archae- 
ologists. The remains of the burnt city would well suit 
the Semitic peoples whom the Phrygians found in posses- 
sion of Asia Minor when they came in. But such a view 
has in it too much of paradox, and involves too many his- 
torical improbabilities to be acceptable. It is very likely 
that, if we wait, fresh archaeological evidence will throw 
light on a matter at present so obscure, and make into a 
whole the scattered facts which at present do not appear 
to fit into one another. 

( 55 ) 



When in the winter of 1876 the brilliant discoveries of 
Dr. Schliemann at Mycenae, and the richness of the 
treasure in gold, silver and bronze which he brought to 
light, drew the attention of all Europe, every archaeologist 
felt that a new chapter in the record of prehistoric Greece 
was being unrolled, and a new light being thrown on an 
age which had been hitherto known to us only from the 
mythical legends of Greek historians, and from the 
immortal Homeric poems. The discoveries of Dr. Schlie- 
mann came to us as a first glimpse into an unknown world, 
but new glimpses into that world have been since afforded 
us by a score of interesting excavations and discoveries 
in Greece and the Islands. And it seems that the time 
has almost arrived when we can review and marshal the 
accumulated evidence. That we are yet prepared to indi- 
cate with clearness the general results to which it leads, 
and to compare in a satisfactory way the evidence of the 
spade with the evidence of legend and of poem, I do not 
say. But we can at least lay down a few lines which 
seem to be established by research and comparison, and 
measure out more exactly the amount of uncertainty 
which yet remains. 

In days when the timid sailor dared not venture out of sight 
of land or out of reach of a port, the Argolid possessed re- 
markable facilities for commerce. The Levantine sailor, at 

56 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. III. 

least until the sixth century B.C., loved above all to pass 
close under the lee of islands, or between islands and the 
coast, and dreaded the free motion and fierce gales of an open 
sea. To this day, when a sudden storm rises in the Aegean, 
the steamboats run for the shelter of the nearest island, and 
placing it between them and the wind, ride at anchor and 
wait. And those islands are perfect breakwaters. The 
change which comes over the sea when, during a high 
wind, one passes behind one of them, is marvellous. Now 
a vessel starting from Argolis could sail northwards behind 
a perfect screen of islands and without once striking into 
open sea, past Aegina, Ceos, and Euboea, as far as Pherae 
in Thessaly. Or it could voyage eastwards between two 
rows of islands as far as Cnidus or Miletus, or southwards 
to Crete. Or it could pass the isthmus at Corinth, and 
go westward through the sheltered Corinthian gulf to 
Leucas and Epirus. Being so favourably situate, it was 
impossible that the Argolid should have failed to carry on 
large commerce from times of the remotest antiquity. In 
the very beginning of his work, Herodotus states that the 
Phoenicians had no sooner settled on the shores of the 
Mediterranean, than they found their way to Argos, bear- 
ing Egyptian and Assyrian wares. These they would 
spread out on the beach, and hold a five or six days' fair, 
and they thought themselves fortunate if after disposing of 
their goods they could attract aboard their ships the fair 
daughters of the land, when they would at once set sail, 
bearing their precious prizes to the harems of the East In 
the legend which states that Danaiis, who drove out the 
Pelasgic king Gelanor, was the son of Belus and brother 
of Aegyptus, we find a clear assertion in mythic form that 
the seeds of the higher culture which turned Pelasgians 
into Danai came from abroad, and were brought from 
the seats of the ancient monarchies of Mesopotamia and 
of Egypt. 

Chap, in.] Mycenae and the Islands. 57 

In the heroic age of Greece, Argolis contained three 
cities, all famous, though they clearly cannot all three 
have flourished together. The natural centre of the plain, 
the place which, apart from accidental reasons, must 
always have been the spot on which an invader would 
seize or in which a ruler would settle, was Argos with its 
lofty citadel. And the traditions of Argos mount up until 
they are lost in the mist of ages : Argos, like Ephesus or 
like London, had always been a city since cities were built 
in Greece. But to the other two cities of the plain are 
assigned definite founders. First Proetus, in the third 
generation from Danaiis, built Tiryns near the sea in the 
ways of commercial intercourse. And next Perseus, two 
generations later, built Mycenae on the spur of a hill that 
stands at the head of the valley. In the construc- 
tion of both these cities the later Greeks saw the hand of 
the Cyclopes of Lycia. And it is not a little interesting to 
observe that there is certainly a similarity of style between 
the architecture of the lion-gate at Mycenae and that of 
early Lycian tombs, in both cases wooden beams being 
closely imitated in another material, stone. It is also the 
opinion of the best authorities that the existing walls at 
Mycenae are of a less early date than those at Tiryns. 

The walls and gates which now remain at Mycenae 
enclose only the Acropolis or citadel of the early city. 
The slopes below were occupied by a considerable town. 
That the poet of the Iliad "kn&w of Mycenae as a populous 
city is implied by the epithet broad-streeted, evpvd'^via, 
which he applies to the place : certainly no broad streets 
can have existed in the narrow and steep spaces of the 
Acropolis. Some traces of houses belonging to this lower 
town are supposed still to exist ; a road among them can 
still be traced, and there are remains of bridges which 
spanned the mountain-streams. But these traces are slight 
and obscure, and must have been obscure during the Greek 

58 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. m. > 

historic age, for the Greek historians and poets all suppose 
that the Mycenae of Atreus and Agamemnon lay within 
the citadel walls. 

We are told that sons of Perseus ruled both at Tiryns 
and at Mycenae. In the tale that Herakles, who was a 
Perseid prince of Tiryns, was obliged to serve Eurystheus, 
the hereditary ruler of Mycenae, we seem to find an indi- 
cation that of the two cities Mycenae was the more im- 
portant ; and that it was larger is abundantly clear from 
the testimony of excavation. 

According to the legends, only two generations inter- 
vened between Perseus and the accession at Mycenae of 
the Phrygian stranger Pelops, who established there a new 
dynasty. It is not necessary that I should here repeat the 
story of Pelops, one of the most brilliant and celebrated 
figures in early Greek mythology.* Everyone knows how 
he came from the district near Smyrna and Mount Sipylus, 
with his followers and his treasures of gold, how he won 
his bride Hippodameia in a chariot-race at Olympia, and 
how he gradually succeeded, according to Thucydides, by 
means of his great wealth, in acquiring dominion in the 
southern peninsula of Greece, thenceforward known by his 
name as Peloponnesus. Before the time of Pelops the 
legends of Argolis are vague and confused, but henceforth 
they become more consistent, and bear at least the out- 
ward appearance of history. Atreus was the son of Pelops 
by his Greek bride, and his son Agamemnon, king of 
Mycenae, is the hero who shines out so nobly in the Iliad, 
and who on his return from Troy fell a victim to the 
intrigues of his wife Clytemnestra and her paramour, his 
cousin Aegisthus. According to the story, Aegisthus held 
the throne for seven years, but in the eighth he was put to 
death by Orestes, who succeeded not only to the kingdom » 

* It is given in the seventh chapter of Grote's History of Greece, 
and in all the Dictionaries. 

Chap. III.] Mycenae and the Islands. 59 

^> ^ 

of Mycenae, but also to that of his uncle Menelaus in 
Sparta. Then came the Dorian invasion, which transferred 
Peloponnese from Achaean to Dorian hands. And thence- 
forth Mycenae which had for a time taken precedence even 
of Argos loses that proud position. In the division of 
lands, Temenus the chief of the Herakleidae set up his 
throne in Argos ; and Mycenae must have been if not 
ruined, at least greatly reduced. In the time of the 
Persian invasion, it could furnish but eighty men to the 
army of Leonidas, and but 200 to that which fought and 
won at Plataea. Shortly afterwards, as we learn, the 
Argives expelled the inhabitants who remained ; and the 
period of its independence came to an end. 

But the whole period of Mycenaean history which is 
important in connexion with recent excavation is the five 
or six generations from the time of Perseus to that of 
Orestes. During that time, which may be reckoned as 
between one and two centuries, Mycenae plays a part in 
history which is unique. It is not merely the head of 
Argolis, but it is the first city of Peloponnese, and bears 
rule, as is said of Agamemnon in the Iliad, over the island 
world which is the bridge between Asia and Europe. 
Thucydides was astonished at the legendary fame of 
Mycenae as compared with the smallness of its site ; he 
did not know, as we do, that all that remained of Mycenae 
in the historic age was the walls not of the city but of the 
Acropolis. But we must postpone for the moment a full 
discussion of his remarks. 

The second period of Mycenaean history which is im- 
portant to the present purpose consists of the few hours 
during which the traveller Pausanias was wandering amid 
its remains, which in his time cannot have been in a very 
jiifferent condition to that in which they stood before the 
recent excavations. It is necessary to cite his words,* as 
' * ii. i6, 4. 

6o New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. m. 

they are important. " There remains of the city," he says, 
" part of the circuit walls besides the gate on which stand 
lions, the work, they say, of the Cyclopes, who built for 
Proetus the wall at Tiryns ; and amid the ruins is the 
spring called after Perseus, also the underground buildings 
of Atreus and his sons where they kept their treasures. 
There is also the grave of Atreus, and of those whom 
Aegisthus slew while feasting them on their return with 
Agamemnon from Troy. As to the tomb of Cassandra, 
that is also claimed by the Lacedaemonians of Amyclae. 
There is a separate tomb of Agamemnon, also of his 
charioteer Eurymedon, and a common grave of Teleda- 
mus and Pelops, who were, they say, twin boys whom 
Cassandra bore, and whom Aegisthus slew while infants 
along with their parents .... (gap) .... (Electra) who was 
given in marriage by Orestes to Pylades. Hellanicus says 
that Medon and Strophius were sons born to Pylades by 
Electra. But Clytemnestra and Aegisthus were buried a 
little way without the walls, being considered unworthy of 
a place within, where lay Agamemnon himself, and those 
who fell with him." 

It is impossible to extract from this passage, which con- 
tains several ambiguities, any quite certain result. But 
without entering into any long discussion, we may regard 
it as making certain points clear. We may take it that 
Pausanias mistakes the citadel at Mycenae to which the 
Lion-gate gives access for the city which lay around it in 
ruins. The fountain of Perseus has not been identified, 
though there are said to be water tanks in the citadel. 
The tombs of Agamemnon and his companions, and of 
Atreus and probably of Electra, were pointed out within 
the walls of the citadel, while the tomb of Aegisthus and 
Clytemnestra lay without those walls. To this testimony 
of Pausanias and to the question of its value we shall have 
to recur. Meantime we cannot but be sure as to what 

Chap. III.] Mycenae and the Islands. 6i 

Pausanias means when he speaks of the subterranean 
treasuries of Atreus and his sons. 

The subterranean treasure-houses, of which six at least 
are now known to exist in the lower city of Mycenae, are 
so well known from the numerous accounts of travellers 
that they need not be described at length. They consist 
of a circular chamber in the shape of a bee-hive, formed of 
massive stones laid in circles one over another, the circles 
becoming smaller and smaller in diameter towards the top 
until the whole is covered in by a single massive stone. 
This circular chamber is approached by a sunken way, and 
out of one side of it opens a small rectangular apartment, 
and the whole is so covered in with earth as to resemble 
in appearance a large mole-hill. It has been disputed 
whether these constructions were intended for tombs or for 
treasuries, but by far the most probable opinion is that 
they were both. In the rectangular chamber, which opens 
out of the larger one, were placed, in all likelihood, the 
remains of a hero or a monarch. In the circular outer 
chamber were stored all the articles of pomp and luxury 
which had surrounded him in life, and which were destined 
for his use and enjoyment in the shadowy future world, 
which was considered as a somewhat slight and joyless 
continuation of the present. Here were his cups of gold 
and silver, his tripods of bronze, his warlike weapons ; and, 
by a strange piece of realism, even whetstones wherewith 
to keep these weapons keen ; his sceptre, and all his wealth 
wherein he delighted. His body was covered with plates 
of gold, and perhaps wives or favourite slaves were laid 
beside him to be his companions in the future world. 

Everything leads us to believe that these treasuries and 
the walls of the citadel are about synchronous. Both are 
alike built of tier upon tier of huge squared blocks of tufa. 
The principle of the §ntrance-gate is the same in both. 
Upon two uprights is placed transversely a block of 

62 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap, m 

enormous size, above which is a triangular slab, perhaps 
carved in both cases with lions in relief, although the reliefs 
of the treasuries have disappeared. In the still extant 
gate of the citadel, the stones on either side of this trian- 
gular slab are arranged, just as they are in the treasuries, 
each tier somewhat overlapping the tier below, and the 
ends cut obliquely so as to fit on to the triangular slab— 
the very principle on which the whole of the treasuries are 
constructed. The doorway of the best-preserved of the 
treasuries has lost its decoration ; but in the earth close by 
were found fragments of pillars of a similar character to 
the pillar between the lions on the citadel gate, and in 
addition specimens of that kind of ornament — consisting in 
rows of raised disks or bosses — which appears on the top 
of the above-mentioned pillar. 

The third important period of Mycenaean history com- 
prises the re-discovery of the buried treasures of the city 
in the present century. In the year 1808 or 1810, Veli 
Pasha, who was then Governor of Peloponnesus, heard the 
report that wealth was hidden in the building called the 
Treasury of Atreus. He dug down to the entrance, and 
his workmen searched inside. What they found is now 
disputed, and will probably never be known. On the one 
side it is said that not only were large masses of gold and 
silver ornaments discovered, but also twenty-five colossal 
statues. This story goes a long way towards refuting 
itself; for colossal statues do not easily disappear, and 
these having been, according to tradition, sold to travellers 
at Tripolitza, should be still remaining in that town or else 
discoverable in some of our great museums. The part of 
the story which concerns the statues being thus found 
wanting, we are inclined to reject the whole of it and to 
prefer the rival story, supported, according to Dr. Schlie- 
mann, by the memory of the oldest inhabitants, that Veli 
Pasha found next to nothing for his pains. 

3ate of the Lion«, 

Side gate. 
Circular Yirecinct of 

the graves. 

H I K Ascent to the pahace. 
L Court of the palauc. 
MNO Principal apartments 

of tlie palace. 
PQRS Smaller apartments 

and corridors. 
T Doric temple. 


E Peak of the Hn^ios Elias, s 
Peuk of the Szara, w Well, 
Miikry Lithiiri (Gate- ch Village of Charvati. 
■iiy of the Lower Cityl- 1 "Treasury of Atreus." 2 Eee- 
hivetoinb, excavated by Mrs. 
Sohlieinaim. 3 4 5 C Other 
Ijuc-hive tuinba. 

K The Kokoretza strciiii. 
C The Cbiivus stro^iu. 

To face page 62. 

Chap. III.] Mycenae and the Islands. 6^ 

After a brief excavation at Tiryns, where little of value 
was discovered, Dr. and Mrs. Schliemann settled at 
Mycenae on the 7th of August, 1876, and set sixty-three 
workmen to dig in the trenches. These men were divided 
into three parties, of which one was set to dig down to the 
entrance of a small subterranean treasury in the immediate 
neighbourhood of the Gate of the Lions ; a second was to 
excavate through the gate a passage into the Acropolis ; 
and the third party was ordered to make a huge trench 
just within the gate. 

The first result of these diggings was the discovery 
that Mycenae, after its destruction by the Argives about 
B.C. 470, was again inhabited by a colony which owned the 
supremacy of Argos, and which must have remained for 
some time on the spot, as it has left a layer of debris some 
feet in depth. This colony probably belonged to the 
Hellenistic age. The trench cut inside the Gate of the 
Lions soon led to remarkable discoveries. It was found 
that the whole space there was occupied by a circle of 
stones, an enclosure made of two concentric circles of 
upright stones, the space between which was roofed by thin 
stone slabs. At first it was supposed that this circle was 
intended to form a continuous bench enclosing an agora 
for meetings and councils. That view, however, is now 
untenable. The barrier was too lofty to sit on, and it is 
most unlikely that any agora existed in the Acropolis ; an 
agora would be found, if at all, in the lower city where the 
people dwelt. It soon appeared that the circle was formed 
for a definite purpose, to enclose a set of tombs of a very 
remarkable kind. The locality of these tombs was first 
suggested by the discovery at a depth of several yards 
below the surface of the ground within the circle, of some 
most curious tombstones, some plain, some carved with 
rude representations of warriors in chariots, attacking the 
foe or setting out for war, of lions pursuing their prey, or 

64 New Chapters in Greek History. [Ohap. Til. 

of strange involved patterns, evidently not suitable to 
stone, but adopted from some other material. Beneath 
each of these stones lay a tomb cut deep into the rock 
below. Dr. Schliemann supposed that these graves, after 
receiving their contents, were filled up with earth, but Dr. 
Dorpfeld has since made it probable that each had a roof 
made of slabs of stone supported by beams of wood shod 
with bronze, which only fell in after many years. 

In these rock-cut tombs lay the bodies of the prehistoric 
rulers of Mycenae. In two of them lay three women, 
their heads adorned with lofty gold diadems, their bodies 
covered with plates of gold which had been sewn on their 
dresses. In four graves lay the bodies of men, varying 
in number from one to five, some wearing golden masks or 
breastplates, all adorned with gold, not less profusely than 
the women, and buried with arms and utensils, with vessels 
of gold and silver, with a wealth of objects of use and of 
luxury sufficient to stock a rich museum of Athens, and 
fairly to astonish those who see it for the first time. 

Of these riches it is impossible without illustrations to 
convey any impression. The reader must turn to the 
pages of Schliemann's Mycenae, or those of Schuchhardt's 
recent work on Schliemann' s Excavations, if he would form 
a notion of them. All that we can here attempt is to give 
representations and brief discussions of the few objects 
which give us most historical information, and which are 
bases of our argument. Curiously enough, the most 
important of Mycenaean works of art required re-dis- 
covery after their discovery. The swords which lay in the 
graves were supposed by Dr. Schliemann to be of merely 
rusted bronze, but since then Mr. Kumanudes has carefully 
cleaned them and revealed devices inlaid on the bronze in 
gold and silver.* On one sword we see a series of gallop- 

* Best published, in the true colours, in the Bulletin de Corre- 
spondance helUnique, vol. x. 

To face page 64. 

Chap. III.] Mycenae and the Islands. 




New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. in. 

ing lions. On two others we find a scene of hunting. A 
river full of fish runs down the blade. Lotuses grow in 
it, and wild ducks are feeding among them. Two cats, 
probably tame, and trained for the purpose, leap among 
the ducks and seize them with mouth and paw. This is a 
subject which is found in wall paintings of the eighteenth 
dynasty in the British Museum* from Thebes in Egypt: 
the river, the fish, the lotus, the cat, the ducks all recur. 
On another sword we have a very vigorous representation 
of a lion hunt. There are three lions, all in varying 
attitudes ; one flies, another also runs, but looks back ; the 
third turns on the pursuers, and drags down one of them : 
the others in various attitudes, armed with the spear and 

- '? 

I ; --"- ,."• v; ht 


the bow, and sheltered behind huge shields, hasten to 
the rescue of their fallen comrade (p. 65). 

A still more recent and perhaps not less interesting 
* Page 54, No. 70, General Guide. 

Chap. III.] Mycenae and the Islands. 6"] 

discovery is announced in the Ephemeris* for 1891. 
Among the fragments of silver vessels found by Schlie- 
mann in tomb No. 4 on the Acropolis was one at the time 
thrown aside as uninteresting. But recently, on removing 
the oxide with which it was encrusted, Mr. Kumanudes 
has revealed a scene of no small interest engraved on it, 
and here repeated. A city with lofty walls is being 
attacked by some enemy, who unfortunately^oes not 
appear in the limits of the fragment. We seethe women 
on the housetops stretching out their arms iri' encourage- 
ment to friend or supplication to foe : they seem to be clad 
in garments with sleeves. Before the walls is a hill 
planted with olives, and there the defenders of the city 
who have issued forth from the gates take their stand. 
Most of them are naked, armed with bow or with sling, 
but two bear large shields and spears, and in the fore- 
ground is a warrior who wears a conical helmet with tuft 
at top, and a jerkin covering his body and his upper arms 
and legs. Also some unarmed figures are kneeling, per- 
haps the elders of the city. 

In the Hesiodic Shield of Herakles is a passage which 
might almost pass for a description of this remarkable 
fragment! Mention is there made of the contending hosts 
of defenders and attackers, " and the women on the well- 
built towers were crying with shrill voice and tearing their 
cheeks, life-like, made by the hands of glorious Hephaes- 
tus. And the men who were elders and stricken in years 
were without the gate assembled, holding up their hands 
to the blessed gods, in fear for their children who were in 
the combat." 

After Dr. Schliemann's excavations at Mycenae had 
come to an end, the place proved to be no exhausted 
mine. Further investigations carried on since 1887 on the 

* Ephemeris Archaiologike, 1891, pi. 2, 2. 

t Line 237, &c. Quoted by Mr.^Tsountas in the Ephemeris, 1. c. 

F 2 

68 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. III. 

spot by Mr. Tsountas on behalf of the Greek Archaeo- 
logical Society, have led to interesting results. On the 
very summit of the Acropolis rock were found the remains 
of a temple, and beneath that the foundations of an early 
palace. Of this palace we shall have further to speak in 
connection with the much better preserved palace of 
Tiryns. And in the lower city there came to light a large 
number of graves of the common people, also of the pre- 
historic age. It may seem strange that any people should 
place the tombs of the dead amid the dwellings of the 
living ; but we know on good authority that such was in 
some places the early Greek custom. Plutarch mentions 
it among the institutions of Lycurgus that the dead should 
be buried in the city and near the temples ; and this, like 
most of the Spartan customs, was probably very ancient. 
The contents of these graves are in some cases later in 
character than those of the royal tombs, forming a transi- 
tion to what we know as the art of historic Greece. But 
on the whole the accordance in technique and style with 
the remains found by Schliemann is close, and furnishes 
abundant proofs, if such were needed, that these works of 
art are not in the main imported from abroad, but manu- 
factured on the spot by a local school of workmen, and 
represent if not an indigenous at least a local art. 

Great discoveries like those at Mycenae almost always 
prove like the letting out of water, and receive from all 
sides supplements and corollaries. So we need not be 
surprised that within the last fifteen years it has been 
made clear that the Mycenaean treasures are no isolated 
phenomena, but belong to a class of remains widely spread 
through northern and southern Greece, through Crete and 
the Islands. Naturally, attention was called to all the 
beehive tombs which existed in various districts, and in 
them and in other early sepulchres was found quite a 
wealth of the remains of heroic Greece. 

Chap. III.] 

Mycenae and the Islands. 


In the very year of the discovery at Mycenae a grave 
was excavated at Spata in Attica, the contents of which 
bore so striking a resemblance to the antiquities of 
Mycenae that it was even shewn that objects precisely 
like some of the ornaments at Spata could be made from 
moulds of stone found at Mycenae. And yet a difference 
of period was observable. For at Spata there were a few 
objects, notably a head in ivory and ivory sphinxes, which 
we could clearly see to belong almost to the period of the 
beginning of Greek sculpture, properly so called. 

With the contents of the tomb at Spata may be com- 
pared those of various tombs of beehive form excavated 
in recent years, at Menidi, at Orchomenus, at Volo, and in 

□ DOaaaacinQnaaDDDDDnaaDaDgamuDaaQpnoP.PaaoOQaopaoaDDaa 





other places. As a rule these tombs have been so com- 
pletely spoiled in antiquity by robbers, that nothing re- 
mains but small fragments of bronze or of glass. But 
these serve to give us an idea of style. And we find 
that the style of these fragmentary remains is the same 
as the style of the objects from Spata, and the same as 

70 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. Iii 

the style of the earhest bronzes found on the site of 
Olympia, which on that site precede works of which the 
style is distinctly Greek ; these latter can be dated to the 
seventh century or thereabouts. The carved ceiling of 
the inner chamber of the tomb at Orchomenus is adorned 
with a beautiful pattern which closely resembles Egyptian 
designs, and seems to indicate communications in pre- 
historic days between Egypt and Greece. 

Quite recently a fortunate Greek savant has discovered 
in the beehive tomb at Bapheion, near Spata, interest- 
ing relics of the same age, including two gold cups which 
are perhaps the most interesting remains of prehistoric 
Greece, and which are represented on page 71. We see 
on them woods consisting in the upper scene of palm-trees, 
and in the lower of trees which belong to a temperate 
climate. Amid these are depicted scenes from the cap- 
ture of wild or half-wild bulls by hunters. These latter 
are lightly clad ; they wear only waistband and boots ; 
their long hair streams down their backs. In the upper 
scene two of them are overthrown by the charge of an 
infuriated animal ; in the lower scene one has succeeded in 
fastening a rope to the hind leg of a bull whose anger and 
alarm are clearly indicated. The contrasted attitudes of 
the bulls, in the upper scene certainly wild, in the lower 
perhaps tamed to the service of man, are rendered with 
remarkable vigour and skill. Together with the siege of 
the city on the silver vessel and the lion-hunt depicted on 
the sword from Mycenae, these cups give us the most vivid 
representation which we possess of the pursuits of the 
prehistoric Greeks, and their cousins on the -other side of 
the Aegean Sea. 

For light on the origin and the date of the works of art 
of the Mycenaean class, we must undoubtedly ' turn to 
Egypt : and it is surprising how clear light we obtain 

Chap. III.] Mycenae and the Islands. 



72 New Chapters in Greek History. [Ohap. Ill 

Firstly, in the Mycenaean tombs and among the remains 
of the city have been found some articles which must have 
come from Egypt, such as an engraved ostrich-egg, and a 
tassel of Egyptian porcelain.* These were found by Schlie- 
mann. Since his excavations has been found a scarab 
bearing the name of the Egyptian Queen Ti. f This lady 
has been reasonably, though not certainly, identified as the 
Queen of Amenophis III. of Egypt of the fifteenth cen- 
tury ; and in very recent excavations some pottery has 
been found % which bears the name of Amenophis himself 
It is true that these names do not give us a precise date ; 
since it was a custom, as we learn, to copy the cartouches 
of celebrated kings and queens on works of a later date. 
But at all events we may consider it proved that the re- 
mains of Mycenae are not earlier than the fourteenth or 
fifteenth century. 

And a clear proof of abundant intercourse between 
Egypt and Greece in the Mycenaean age is furnished by 
the obvious resemblance between works of Mycenaean art 
and those of Egypt. The sculptured pattern of the sepul- 
chral chamber at Orchomenus is almost identical with 
patterns painted in Egyptian tombs. The swords repre- 
senting a duck hunt § give us a scene of a very peculiar 
character, which could only originate in Egypt : there were 
no cats in Greece, and the custom of training cats to catch 
birds seems to be peculiar to Egypt. The lion-hunt and 
the siege of the city from the Mycenaean tombs will also 
readily carry back the eye to Egyptian prototypes. || 

Yet notwithstanding this close relation to Egyptian art, 
the masterpieces of Mycenae have much in them which is 
non-Egyptian, and which seems to niark a native style of 
art. There is a freedom from convention and a vigour 

* Mycenae, p. 241. t EpJiem. Archaiol. 1887, p. 169. 

% Ephem. Archaiol. 1891, pi. 3. § Above, p. 65. 

II e.g. Perrot, Egypte, trans. I. 47. 

Chap. III.] Mycenae and the Islands. 

about them which is unmistakeable. Some recent writer 
have been disposed to call them importations from Phoe- 
nicia. They cite the appearance of the palm-tree, the 
half-clad appearance of the men, the presence of the lion 
as indications pointing to Syria rather than to Greece. 
This view is, however, unsatisfactory. So far as we know, 
Phoenician art, from first to last, was singularly wanting 
in any sort of originality : it only combined given forms. 
And again, it is impossible to draw a line as regards style 
between works in gold and silver, which might possibly 
have been imported from Phoenicia, and heavy objects 
such as tombstones which could not be imported. It 
seems far more probable that in this problem we have 
almost to eliminate the Phoenicians, and to find only a 
native Greek art working largely in obedience to Egyptian 
teaching. If the dates which presently I hope to make 
probable are accepted, the culmination of the Mycenaean 
age would correspond with the time when the cities o 
Phoenicia had been plundered or destroyed by the people 
of the north in their march on Egypt, and when Phoeni- 
cian influence was at a low ebb. Accordingly, among the 
Mycenaean treasures are scarcely any which can be with 
confidence declared to be Phoenician. The objects which 
have the best claim to that attribution are the gold plates 
which represent a naked goddess surrounded by doves> 
and a temple with doves perching on it ; but even these 
may as well betray a Cyprian or a Canaanite as a 
Phoenician origin. The Goddess of Love and her doves 
were by no means peculiar to the people of Sidon and 

On another side Mr. Petrie has pointed out * that pottery 
of the Mycenaean class was imported into Egypt under 
the eighteenth and subsequent dynasties ; and the pre- 
sence of it in conjunction with Egyptian antiquities which 
* Journ. Hell. Stud. 1890, p. 271 ; 1891, p. 201. 

74 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. III. 

can be dated, gives us a clue for the determination of the 
date of the Mycenaean civilisation. Quite recently, he has 
endeavoured to affix closer dates to the tombs of the 
Mycenaean Acropolis. He considers that their contents 
can be assigned almost with certainty to the period 1200- 
I ICO B.C. But the twelfth century was, if any trust at all 
is to be placed in Greek tradition, the age of the culmina- 
tion of the Achaean power, shortly before the irruption of 
the poor and comparatively barbarous Dorians from the 
north shattered the fabric of princely luxury, and paved 
the way for the rise of the city commonwealths of the 
historic age. It is scarcely possible to over-estimate the 
value of this date, if it may be relied on. And it certainly 
accords with most indications. 

We can scarcely pass in silence the important evidence 
as to the peoples of the Levant in prehistoric days which 
is furnished by the wall-paintings at Medinet Abu in 
Egypt.* We have there in contemporary records the 
account of more than one battle waged by the Egyptians 
in B.C. 1 300-1200 against the peoples of Asia Minor and 
the Islands, who are represented in the wall paintings as 
attacking the country both by sea and land.f The names 
given to these peoples by Egyptologists are so various, and 
the identifications with particular races are so uncertain 
that I am unwilling to repeat them. One can only 
venture to speak of the wall-painting of the sea-fight at 
Pelusium, in which the fleet of the invaders was destroyed 
by Rameses III., because, however the Egyptian hierogly- 
phics may be read, the paintings of Egyptian artists are 
clear and trustworthy. 

In this cartoon, the northern peoples who attack Egypt 
are represented as sailing in ships rising at both ends with 

* Rosellini, Monumenti Storichi, pi. 125 and foil. 
t In an Appendix to Ilios (p. 745) Dr. Brugsch gives a detailed 
account of these wars. 

Chap. III.] Mycenae and the Islands. 75 

lofty curves, whereas the ships of the Egyptians are curved 
only at one end, and adorned at the other with a lion's 
head. They are unbearded men, clad in jerkins reaching 
to the knee and girt in at the waist, armed with spears, 
short swords and round shields. One tribe of them have 
on their heads a lofty cap apparently made of feathers, 
the other tribe wear a round helmet surmounted by a 
crescent and ball. On other paintings of the same age 
both tribes appear as auxiliaries or mercenaries of the 
Egyptians in their wars. 

It has been well remarked that the ships of these 
invaders recall by their form the Homeric epithets a/j,<j)ie- 
Xiaaa and Kopcovk. But the equipment and armour of 
the men in no wise corresponds to that given in the 
Homeric poems to Greeks, Trojans and Lycians ; the 
crested helmet, the breastplate, the greaves are alike 
wanting. Nor do we find here the crested helmets of 
the Carians. Less unlike is the arming of the warriors 
represented on the gems and the signets of Mycenae. If 
we compare the Mycenaean hero of the signet figured on 
p. 144 we shall see that he perhaps wears a spiked helmet 
and jerkin. The warrior at the bottom of the siege- 
scene (above, p. 66) is clad in a jerkin covering his body 
and legs to the thigh, and wears a conical helmet. 
But it must be confessed that though the equipment of 
the warriors of Mycenae and of those who appear at 
Medinet Abu is similar, it is not identical. The round 
shield in particular appears at Medinet Abu, and not at 

That the Greeks in the prehistoric age entered on con- 
siderable expeditions by land and sea is shewn by the 
stories of Ilium and Thebes, of the Argonauts, and of 
Odysseus' feigned expedition from Crete to Egypt. And 
in fact they must have thrown out considerable colonies 
about B.C. 1000. It would have been very natural to 

76 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. III. 

identify them among the invaders or the mercenaries of 
Egypt. But we can scarcely venture to do so with con- 
fidence until either Egyptologists are agreed on the 
subject, or until fresh monuments are discovered in the 
marvellous valley of the Nile, to decide our doubts. 
But we do not need this further evidence to enable us 
to trace a close connection between the Greeks of the 
Mycenaean age and the Egyptians. 

Beside the influence of the art of Egypt on that of 
Mycenae we may also trace the working on it of Baby- 
lonian prototypes. Babylonian cylinders have been found 
in the early graves in Cyprus ; and we know that in early 
pre-historic times the cuneiform system of writing, the 
worship of the Babylonic goddess Mylitta, and the forms 
of Babylonic sculpture slowly made their way across Asia 
to the coast of Asia Minor and beyond it. Egyptian 
influence had to pass the sea in order to reach Greece, but 
Babylonic influence passed from city to city and from 
nation to nation by the land route, and permeated western 
Asia in a remarkable degree. It cannot therefore surprise 
us to trace Babylonic influence in various remains of 
Mycenaean art. And we find it especially in the signets, 
such as that in which a lady seated under a tree receives 
homage from worshippers, and generally in the treat- 
ment of the male and female form. According to the 
legend, Belus, as well as Aegyptus, had descendants in 
the Argolid ; and this tradition is probably based on 

Having thus briefly considered the problem of the 
Mycenaean age in Greece, let us turn to the special and 
less vague problems oflfered us by the facts of Mycenae in 

Certain circumstances of the burials at Mycenae seem 
remarkable and full of meaning. Firstly, the bodies of 
the dead had been buried in haste and some confusions 

Chap. III.] Mycenae and the Islands. "jj 

in graves too small * and unduly crowded with treasures. 
And they had been, although preserved by some simple 
process of embalming, yet as we are told, partially burned. 
These facts indicate an entombment in haste : it is not 
thus that any early people would dispose of their heroic 
dead, especially while endowing them with so much 
treasure. This makes it very probable that we have to 
do, not with a first interment but with a re-interment ; and 
this probability is especially strengthened by the burning 
added to the embalming. Then again the number of the 
graves was six, and it can scarcely be a mere coincidence 
that the beehive tombs outside the citadel were also six in 
number. And again, it is maintained by Dr. Schuchhardt 
and other writers, and in fact generally allowed, that the 
contents of the various tombs point not quite to the same 
period for their origin. The contents of the tombs num- 
bered by Schliemann 3, 4, and S, seem to be decidedly, if 
not by any long period, older than those of tombs i, 2, 
and 6. And yet it is hard to suppose that the whole 
contents of the circle of stones were not placed where they 
were found on one definite occasion. Considerations such 
as these led me some time ago to a view which I have 
already suggested in the Quarterly Review for 1877, but 
which, I am bound to say, has not yet been generally 
accepted by savants. I conceive that on some occasion 
when the city of Mycenae was in danger from some 
invading foe, the people of the city began to fear lest the 
bodies and treasures of their early kings, buried in the six 
beehive-shaped tombs outside the walls of the citadel, 
should fall into hostile hands. So they may have removed 

* Mycenae, p. 295 : " The three bodies of this tomb lay with their 
heads to the east and their feet to the west ; all three were of large 
proportions, and appeared to have been forcibly squeezed into the 
small space of only 5 ft. 6 in. which was left for them between the inner 

78 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. hi. 

bodies and treasures alike to a spot within the walls of the 
Acropolis, thinking that at least within those mighty walls 
safety would be found. They may have dug deep into the 
rock, and at the bottom of the tombs have hastily erected 
rude pyres whereon to burn the bodies of their heroes. 
This burning may have been dictated by the altered 
custom which then prevailed as to the rites of burial. Or 
perhaps it may have been intended to remove the corpses 
yet more securely out of the reach of enemies. After the 
funereal fire, they may have heaped in the graves all the 
treasures which had before surrounded their dead. In 
after days they may have made an altar and erected tomb- 
stones over the various graves. This hypothesis would 
account for many circumstances. It would explain the 
dismantled and empty condition of the underground trea- 
suries. That these have not been entered and pillaged 
within historical times is certain, for Dr. Schliemann found 
the dromos or entrance to the one which he searched full of 
archaic pottery, and the earth there quite undisturbed, 
Yet the treasury itself was empty. It would account for 
the number of the bodies buried at one time and the mass 
•of wealth which lay about them. It is indeed open to one 
•objection, that the bodies of the kings would, unless em- 
balmed, have passed in the course of a century or two into 
such a condition as would prevent their being removed 
to a new tomb. We would, however, suggest that some 
circumstances seem to point to a certain decay in the 
bodies before they were buried in the agora. This is 
suggested by their cramped position, and the fact carefully 
noted by Dr. Schliemann, that in the case of a male body 
the golden shoulder-belt " was not in its place, for it now 
lay across the loins of the body, and extended in a straight 
Jine far to the right of it." It is further exceedingly likely 
that the early Mycenaeans partly embalmed the bodies of 
their dead princes. The gold masks on their faces remind 

Chap. III.] Mycenae and the Islands. 79 

us in a striking manner of the gilded faces of the Egyptian 
mummies, and suggest that among other Egyptian cus- 
toms, which penetrated into Greece at an early epoch, the 
dressing of the dead with spices may have held a place. 

As to the circle of stones which surrounded the spot, that 
is at a higher level, and in Dr. Dorpfeld's opinion of a later 
date than the graves. It is patent to everyone who looks 
at the plan of Mycenae that this circle cannot have been 
made while the Acropolis was in use as a dwelling-place. 
It entirely blocks the way to the great Lion-gate which was 
the principal entrance to the citadel ; and its only opening 
lies towards that gate. It seems then perfectly clear that 
it must be the work not of the early people of Mycenae, 
but of their conquerors, probably of the Dorian invaders. 
Wishing to abolish Mycenae as a fortified place, but at the 
same time to avoid offence to the godlike heroes who had 
made the place celebrated, the new comers must have 
formed a sacred circle just within the gate, and accessible 
only through it, and ordained that the rest of the site 
should lie waste in honour of the indwelling heroes. And 
waste it seems to have lain for a long time, until the 
erection on the summit of a Doric temple, of which, as we 
have seen, traces have been found. In the time of the 
Persian wars it seems to have recovered a few inhabitants. 

This view we hold to be the most probable ; but we 
cannot maintain that it meets all the difficulties of the case. 
For example, what can Pausanias have seen, when the 
tombs of the companions of Agamemnon were shewn him ? 
He cannot have seen the tombstones known to us, since 
they were buried under some twenty feet of soil. And of 
any chapels or memorials on the surface there is no trace. 
Some will be prepared with the ready solution that Pau- 
sanias was never at Mycenae at all, but merely copied from 
old guide-books. This solution, however, does not help 
us at all, since the authority copied by Pausanias can no 

8o New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. III. 

more have seen the buried tombstones than can he himself. 
And besides, no part of Pausanias' work bears more satis- 
factory evidence of autopsy than does the book which treats 
of Mycenae. Dr. Schuchhardt thinks that some later 
graves may have been pointed out to Pausanias as those of 
the Homeric heroes ; and of course this is possible. Never- 
theless it seems more reasonable, in view of the results of 
excavation, to think that tradition handed down even to 
the Antonine age knowledge of the spot where lay the 
bodies of the heroic monarchs of Mycenae, however such 
spot may have been at the time marked out. 

The theory above advanced is also untenable if the view, 
which must be called the generally received one, of the 
later date of the beehive tombs than of the deep graves 
be accepted. This view, however, can scarcely claim to be 
established. It is no doubt true that some objects found 
in some of the beehive tombs, such as those at Nauplia 
and Menidi, appear to belong to the latest period of the 
Mycenaean culture ; while the deep graves represent a 
somewhat earlier stage. But we do not know that all 
these beehive tombs were of the same age. Those of 
Orchomenus and Bapheion seem to belong to an earlier 
date than some of the others : Mr. Petrie argues that the 
objects from Bapheion are earlier in character than the 
Mycenaean finds. And there appears to be no reason 
why the beehive tombs of Mycenae should belong to a 
later age than those of Orchomenus and Bapheion. We 
have moreover argued above that the beehive tombs of 
Mycenae are of the same age as the city walls ; and these 
walls can scarcely be of later construction than the graves 
dug within them. 

In approaching the question as to the historical place of 
the kings in the Mycenaean graves, we undoubtedly reach 
the most difficult part of our subject. 

Let us first consider the indications, neither few nor 

Chap. III.] Mycenae and the Islands. 8 1 

slight, of a connection between the Mycenaean remains and 
the Phrygians of the coast of Asia Minor. First we come 
to the Lion-gate. Already in 1842 Ainsworth observed 
the close likeness between these rampant lions facing one 
another on each side of a pillar and the relief groups of 
Phrygian tombs. Since the discovery of the great lions 
at Ayazinn* this analogy has become still more striking, 
although a difference in style is evidisnt. The curious 
heraldic scheme of the group is of course no Phrygian 
invention, but may be traced back to the art of Cappadocia 
and of Babylon ; yet we may fairly say that at present the 
nearest analogy to the, lions of Mycenae is to be found in 
those of Phrygia. It has further been observed that the 
capital of the pillar which divides the lions is clearly a copy 
in stone of the ends of round beams, and this translation 
into stone of wooden architectural features is precisely one 
of the most clearly marked characteristics of the art of 
Phrygia no less than of that of Lycia. 

The beehive tombs found at Mycenae and elsewhere in 
Greece were certainly in ancient times regarded as of 
Phrygian origin. Athenaeus records the tradition that 
they were the graves of the followers of Pelops. And 
Vitruvius states that the Phrygians in Asia were compelled 
by want of wood for huts to dig into natural mounds, and so 
hollow out for themselves a dwelling-place. Of course the 
form of the tomb would among them, as among all peoples, 
follow that of the dwelling. And although we now know 
that the tombs in inland Phrygia were merely hollowed 
out of the rock, we yet find nearer the coast tumuli with 
inner chambers which may well have been prototypes of 
the Greek " treasuries." There is the great mound which 
is connected with the name of Tantalus near Smyrna, 
and that connected with Alyattes in Lydia. And further 
south, in Caria, Mr. Patonf has excavated some remarkable 

* Joiirn. Hell. Stud. pi. 17, 18, &c. t lb- vol. viii. pp. 67, 80. 


82 New Chapters i?i Greek History. [Chap. Ill, 

tombs built of stone under an artificial mound which are in 
construction very similar to the " treasury of Atreus." It 
is true that this method of burying the dead was not 
confined to Phrygia, nor even to Asia Minor, but it seems 
to be in Greece of foreign origin. 

The quantity of the gold in the graves at Mycenae and 
the patterns with which it is adorned alike seem naturally 
to lead us to the district at the foot of Sipylus. The Pac- 
tolus and other rivers near it were full of gold dust, and 
generation after generation those who possessed that corner 
of Asia possessed gold without limit down to the time of 
Croesus. Greece proper, on the other hand, produced in 
historic times little or no gold. It may be said that in all 
countries there is surface-gold, which the first strong race 
of inhabitants exhausts once for all : and this is true ; yet 
it seems scarcely likely that there would be surface-gold in 
Greece as late as the twelfth century. So the probability 
, of a Phrygian origin of the gold found at Mycenae must 
stand for something, though it is not a certainty. The 
likeness too of the patterns at Mycenae to those on the 
tombs of the kings of Phrygia is striking : it was observed 
by Leake, that the pattern on the Midas tomb was like 
those on the entrance to the treasury of Atreus, and the 
same likeness certainly holds in regard to the gold orna- 
ments of the Mycenaean tombs. 

To these archaeological indications we might add others 
drawn from other sources. For instance, the ancients 
regarded the dance cordax as imported into Greece from 
Phrygia by Pelops. And there is a striking likeness 
between the name of Atreus and that of Otreus the 
Phrygian king mentioned in the Iliad, as well as of the 
city of Otrus. But we must not insist on points like these, 
or run the risk of adding fanciful arguments to those of 
undoubted value. 

Let us compare these results, the evidence of which is 

Chap. III.] Mycenae and the Islands. 83 

derived from observation and excavation, with the legends 
accepted by Thucydides. Thucydides says that before the 
Dorian conquest, the date of which is traditionally fixed 
at B.C. 1 104, Mycenae was the city whence ruled a wealthy 
race of kings. Archaeology produces the bodies of kings 
ruling at Mycenae about the twelfth century and spreads 
their wealth under our eyes. Thucydides says that this 
wealth was brought in the form of gold from Phrygia by 
the founder of the line, Pelops. Archaeology tells us that 
the gold found at Mycenae may very probably have come 
from the opposite coast of Asia Minor which abounded in 
gold ; and further that the patterns impressed on the gold 
work at Mycenae bear a very marked resemblance to the 
decorative patterns found on graves in Phrygia. Thucy- 
dides tells us that though Mycenae was small, yet its 
rulers had the hegemony over a great part of Greece. 
Archaeology shews us that the kings of Mycenae were 
wealthy and important quite out of proportion to the small 
city which they ruled, and that the civilisation which 
centred at Mycenae spread over south Greece and the 
Aegean, and lasted for some centuries at least. 

It seems to me that the simplest way of meeting the 
facts of the case is to suppose that we have recovered at 
Mycenae the graves of the Pelopid race of monarchs. It 
will not of course do to go too far. The number and sex 
of the corpses found in the tombs cannot be made to 
correspond with the enumeration of Pausanias, and this 
is sufficient to warn us not to regard the local legend 
which he reports as embodying actual sober fact. It 
would be too much to suppose that we have recovered the 
bodies of the Agamemnon who seems in the Iliad to be 
as familiar to us as Caesar or Alexander, or of his father 
Atreus, or of his charioteer and the rest. We cannot of 
course prove the Iliad to be history ; and if we could, the 
world would be poorer than before. But we can insist 

G 2 

84 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. m. 

upon it that the legends of heroic Greece have more of 
the historic element in them than anyone supposed a few 
years ago. And as science is always progressive we may 
hope by degrees to distil more and more history from 
these legends. At present, in speaking of the Pelopjd 
kings, we use an ethnologic and geographic, rather than 
a historic, phrase ; we merely indicate a race probably 
derived from Asia Minor, or at all events thence deriving 
its civilisation. We do not mean to guarantee names or 
details of history. 

I have dwelt, perhaps, quite enough on the Phrygian 
element in the civilisation of Mycenae, since after all any 
influence exercised by Phrygia on Hellas at this time 
would be artistic rather than national. The true Phrygians 
were, as has been above maintained, closely akin to the 
Greeks, quite as closely akin as the Macedonians of a later 
time. And if the kings of Mycenae, with theit immediate 
followers, were of Phrygian extraction, that fact would 
by no means put them outside the line of Hellenic 
development. Agamemnon would be as truly Greek as 
George HI. was English. With Homer the Pelopid kings 
have nothing at all foreign about them, so that Grote has 
maintained that the Lydian origin of Pelops was a post- 
Homeric invention. But there is in the Iliad nothing 
more remarkable than its omissions ; and it is never safe 
to insist upon them as evidence. All that it seems fair 
to say is that had the Greeks of Homer's time thought of 
the Pelopidae as an utterly foreign dynasty we should 
have found some trace of this feeling in the Iliad. 

Assuming then that we may fairly class the Pelopidae 
as Achaean, and may regard the remains at Mycenae as 
characteristic of the Achaean civilisation of Greece, is it 
possible to trace with bolder hand the history of Achaean 
Greece ? Certainly we gain assistance in our endeavour 
to realize what the pre-Dorian state of Peloponnesus was 

Chap. III.] Mycenae and the Islands. 85 

like. We secure a hold upon history which is thoroughly 
objective, while all the history which before existed was 
so vague and ifnaginative that the clear mind of Grote 
refused to rely upon it at all. But precise dates are more 
than we can venture to lay down, in the present condition 
of our knowledge. 

The Achaean civilisation was contemporary with the 
eighteenth Egyptian dynasty* (B.C. 1700-1400).! It 
lasted during the invasions of Egypt from the north 
(1300-1100). When it ceased we cannot say with cer- 
tainty. There is every historical probability that it was 
brought to a violent end in the Dorian invasion. The 
traditional date of that invasion is B.C. 1104. But it is 
obvious that this date cannot be relied upon. And it 
is probable, almost to certainty, that the Dorian invasion 
would be, like the Saxon conquest of England, a slow 
and gradual process. We cannot tell how long it lasted, 
the dynastic lists of the kings of this age having, small 
authority. We must suppose that district after district 
succumbed to the invaders. When Argolis, the centre 
of Greek civilization at the time, fell into their hands 
must remain doubtful. At any rate, great changes must 
have taken place, and a considerable space of time must 
have elapsed, before the beginnings of historic Greece. 
The doings of kings and peoples during these centuries 
have perished. The phases of art only are known to us. 
Of these phases I shall speak in more detail in a future 
chapter. J The Mycenaean art seems to have decayed, 
in some districts faster than in others, and to have given 

* Besides the proofs of this already mentioned (p. 72) it should be 
stated that an inlaid bronze dagger and other articles resembling 
those found at Mycenae have made their appearance in the tomb of 
a queen of the eighteenth dynasty in Egypt. 

t I take these dates from the British Museum Guide (i8go), p. 40 
and foil. 

X See below, pp. 123-129. 

86 Neiv Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. hi. 

way by degrees to an art which is essentially geometrical, 
like the art of Hallstadt and of Scandinavia. But we 
are not of course in a position to say that wherever we 
find the art of Mycenae we must suppose an Achaean 
population, since the invading Dorians may easily have 
copied the works of art of those they conquered, just as 
the Saxons in Britain copied works of Celtic art. Only, 
speaking roughly, it is fair to say that the Mycenaean art 
is of Achaean, and the succeeding geometric art of Dorian 
origin. Olympia, which only rose into importance under 
the Dorians, shows in its lowest and earliest levels the 
art which succeeded the Mycenaean. 

We must, however, before proceeding, consider a rival 
view, which has been put forward on good authority as 
an alternative to that which asserts the Achaean origin 
of the Mycenaean remains, the view advocated by Kohler, 
Diimmler and Studniczka, that they are Carian. This view 
was suggested by the statement of Thucydides,* that the 
Carians had extensive possessions in the Greek islands in 
days before the Trojan war ; and that when the Island of 
Delos was purified by the Athenians during the Pelopon- 
nesian War, and the bodies which had been buried there 
removed, most of them were found to be Carian, being 
identified by the fashion of their weapons and of their 
burial. This very passage of Thucydides, however, 
seems to offer the strongest proof that the interments at 
Mycenae were not Carian, if we compare it with one 
of Herodotus.t Herodotus says that the Carians were a 
warlike race, and noted as the authors of three inven- 
tions, which the Greeks borrowed from them, the crests 
of helmets, the devices and handles of shields. But the 
heroes of Mycenae were quite clearly not warlike. In 
their tombs were found no helmets ; and if there were 
traces of any shields, which is doubtful, these were made, 
* I. 8. t I. 171. 

Chap. III.] Mycenae and the Islands. 87 

not of metal but of wood or leather, without handles. ■ 
The mention of handles implies the use by the Carians 
of small round metal shields : at Mycenae only the large 
scutum suspended by a strap from the neck was in use. 
We may thus safely say that, little as we know about the 
Carians, we do know that their interments could not be 
like those at Mycenae. 

And the arguments which Dr. Diimmler brings for- 
ward * as fatal to the Achaean theory are really of small 
weight, compared to those which accumulated on the other 
side. The Carian theory is almost as untenable from the 
historical point of view as are the Gallic and the Gothic 
theories from the archaeological point of view.t For we 
have no reason at all to assume lasting and wide-spread 
settlements of Carians in Greece Proper. 

At any rate, it seems impossible to bring down either 
the treasures or the fortifications of Mycenae to a later 
age than the year B.C. looo, say to the date of the Dorian 
kings of Argos and the threshold of Greek history. It 
is not reasonable to suppose that Dorian kings of Argos 
would have fortified the rival Mycenae. If we regard the 

* Athen. Mittheil. xii. He argues (i) that the tombs must date 
from the 15th century, which is too early for a flourishing Achaean 
kingdom. But the true date, as we have seen above, is the 
1 2th century not the 15 th. (2) That we have small trace of Mycenaean 
civilisation in Asia Minor among the Achaean colonists. But this 
negative argument is valueless until more serious excavations are 
carried on in Asia Minor. (3) That Homer speaks of burning the 
dead, while at Mycenae they were buried. There are perhaps traces 
of burning at Mycenae, but if not, we know that at various periods of 
Greek history the two ways of disposing of the dead existed side by 
side ; and so probably they did in the Homeric age. (4) That no 
fibulae were found at Mycenae, which implies Asiatic dress rather 
than that implied in the Homeric poems. But more recent excava- 
tions at Mycenae, and particularly in graves of the Mycenaean age in 
Cyprus, have brought fibulae to light. 

t How untenable these last views are, I have tried to show in a 
paper in the first volume of the Journal of Hellenic Studies. 

88 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. III. 

contents of the tombs, it seems quite out of the question 
to attribute the wealth and luxury which they display 
to the poor and hardy Dorians : and there is no evidence 
that tombs and walls belong to different ages : the 
circumstances of the case render this most unlikely. At 
present therefore the Achaean theory decidedly holds the 

The painted pottery found in and around the tombs at 
Mycenae has been the subject of careful investigation by 
Messrs. Furtwangler and Loschcke, and has led those 
savants to interesting results. For it appears that vases 
of the same class, now known to archaeologists as Myce- 
naean, are found in Boeotia, Attica, Peloponnesus, Rhodes, 
Crete, Cyprus, Carpathos, and elsewhere. Certain classes 
of them are supposed to have been made in Argolis only ; 
other classes in many parts of the Aegean. They seem to 
be the outward and visible sign of a civilisation, of which 
the roots lay in Argolis, but the branches spread over the 
south of Greece and across the islands of the Asiatic 
coast. Vases of the same kind have been found in 
Egypt,* no doubt having been carried thither as mer- 
chandise, or as tribute from the Greek islands. And in 
graves which contain this pottery we find also bronze work 
adorned with the Mycenaean patterns, and poor jewelry, 
including occasionally fibulae for fastening the dress. 

And this " Mycenaean " civilisation in the islands and in 
Cyprus seems to succeed to a lower stage of culture which 
also we can trace in the grave-yards.j At this earlier 
stage, the people of the islands seem to have used as 
weapons bronze spears and daggers, but the long swords 
which are so characteristic a feature of the Mycenaean 
remains are entirely wanting. Their pottery, in opposition 
to the more beautiful Mycenaean ware, with its elegant 

* Cf. Petrie in Journal of Hellenic Sticdies, vols. x. xi. 
t Dummler in Athen. Mittheilungen, 1886, p. 15. 

Chap. III.] Mycenae and the Islands. 89 

forms, and its decoration of skilfully adapted natural 
forms, is rude, often not even made on the potter's wheel, 
adorned with moulded patterns or with the roughest 
painted devices. Idols also occur ; rude imitations in ala- 
baster of the naked human form, so primitive as scarcely to 
have style, and to leave us uncertain whether they are meant 
to portray gods or men. Some of the objects mixed 
with these primitive wares seem however to indicate com- 
merce ; ivory for example must have come originally 
from Africa, and a few Babylonian cylinders seem to prove 
that even the distant Empire of Babylon threw out rays 
of civilisation beyond the confines of Asia. 

It is impossible here to describe in detail these antiqui- 
ties, so as to make them intelligible. It is certain that 
they open to us interesting historical vistas ; and we may 
hope some day to speak of the fruit which they bring to the 
prehistoric record of Greece with confidence. But there is 
a great impediment in the way, which has as yet con- 
tinually turned historians and archaeologists into paths 
which are unsafe. This is the fact that it is always 
unsafe to argue from a likeness or difference in art-work 
to identity or difference of race. Even on language it is 
very unsafe to base ethnological arguments : still more 
unsafe is it to base ethnological arguments on custom. 
For example, one might suppose that among primitive 
races style of dress was a fair index of race ; yet Herodotus 
says — and the monuments prove him to be right — -that 
the Athenians in the course of two or three centuries 
changed their women's dress from the Doric to the Ionic, 
and back again. The custom of treating the dead, whether 
burning or burying, might also seem a safe racial character- 
istic. But we know that both customs prevailed together 
at many periods of history, the rich being usually burned 
and the poor buried. Still more uncertain are indications 
drawn from style in metal-work or pottery, for in such 

90 Nezu Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. m. 

matters the less civilised race is almost sure to copy the 
more civilised. Thus the spread of a kind of remains 
found in tombs may not imply a change of race, nor a 
conquest by a more civilised over a less civilised com- 
munity, but may result merely from a change in the 
direction of commerce, or in the taste of a people. 

Dr. Diimmler is disposed to see in the earlier Island- 
civilisation that of the Leleges, and in the later (Mycenaean) 
that of the Carians, who probably conquered and made 
them tributary. But since, as we have shewn, there is no 
reason for connecting the civilisation of Mycenae with the 
Carians, we are naturally tempted to draw from the facts 
quite a different inference, and to discern in the spread of 
Mycenaean style in art the growing political power of the 
Achaean kings of Mycenae. We know that according to 
tradition Agamemnon ruled the isles as well as Argos, and 
Thucydides' theory that the King of Mycenae was the 
head of a considerable naval force is very plausible indeed. 
But though we can thus reach probabilities we cannot 
reach certainties, and it is better not to treat as established 
views which may hereafter be shewn to be unsound. 
What archaeology makes clear is that Argolis was in the 
twelfth century ruled by a wealthy and powerful native 
race, closely connected with Asia Minor, and much in- 
fluenced by the art of Egypt. 

( 91 ) 



The excavations carried on by Schliemann, with the 
help of Dr. Dorpfeld, at Tiryns during the years 1884-5, 
have an interest which is mainly architectural. The 
pottery, terra-cottas and implements found in the ancient 
Acropolis are in the lower and earlier strata like those of 
Hissarlik, while at the upper strata they closely resemble 
the objects found in Mycenae, objects which have 
been already discussed in these pages. We propose, 
therefore, to devote most of the present chapter to an 
attempt to explain what additions to our knowledge of 
the city-walls, the palaces, and the graves of primitive 
Greece have resulted from the excavations at Tiryns. 

Travellers who have been in Greece, and such are now 
no longer rare, must be forgetful indeed if they fail to 
remember the aspect of the lovely plain of Argolis, as one 
approaches it from the sea, a triangle, whereof lofty 
mountains shut in two sides, while the third is bounded by 
the blue, still, transparent waters of the Aegean. It is hard 
to say whether the scene is more beautiful when the rising 
sun throws the hard shadow of mountain on mountain, or 
when the peaks towards evening change colour almost as 
rapidly as do the clouds of a northern sky. Dr. Schliemann 
writes of it : "I mentally recall the ascending peaks of the 
Himalayas, the luxuriance of the tropical world on the 
islands of Sunda and the Antilles ; or, again, I turn to the 
view from the great Chinese wall, to the glorious valleys of 

92 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. iv. 

Japan, to the far-famed Yo-Semite Valley in California, 
or the high peaks of the great Cordilleras, and I confess 
that the prospect from the citadel of Tiiyns far exceeds 
all of natural beauty which I have elsewhere seen." This 
beautiful plain contains the sites of three famous cities, 
They cannot all have flourished together, and we know 
that the supremacy belonged to various of them at different 
times. Mycenae, placed at the head of the plain, is a great 
mountain fastness, fit for a stronghold in unquiet days, 
when the seas were full of pirates, and a city nearer to the 
sea ran a risk of sudden sack by them. In more quiet 
times Argos, which naturally dominates the centre of the 
plain, would secure the primacy in virtue of its more con- 
venient site and richer territory, and would, as in fact it 
did, establish a port on the sea, whence it could com- 
municate with the outer world, Nauplia, the natural gate 
of the valley, but never its ruler. The stronghold of 
Tiryns is about three miles from the sea. The site was 
fitted for the seat of a powerful family, who wished 
to preserve communication with both sea and land, 
but it was not adapted for a large population. It was not 
large in area, to begin with, and possessed neither the 
grasp of the land obtained by Argos, nor the hold on 
the sea which made the fortune of Nauplia. Hence it was 
destined to fade away with the growth of great cities, 
population, and trade, which began in so marked a manner 
in the ninth and eighth centuries in Greece ; and its bloom 
was past when Sparta had scarcely eclipsed its neighbour 
Amyclae, and Athens was disputing with Megara the 
possession of Salamis. 

The huge walls of Tiryns are pointed out to every 
traveller. Their massiveness of construction surprises the 
visitor, as it surprised Pausanias in the time of Hadrian, and 
drew from him the somewhat exaggerated statement, that 
the stones of which they are built are so huge that the 

Chap. IV.] The Palace at Tiryns. 93 

smallest of them could not be moved by a yoke of mules. 
And from the visit of Pausanias onwards travellers have 
been content to gaze on the huge ramparts as a nine-days' 
wonder, and to pass on. The spade of Dr. Schliemann has 
changed all this. The walls are to the mere traveller as 
stupendous as ever, but to the archaeologist they have 
become eloquent. Their plan and details are laid bare, 
and they tell us many a fact as to the architecture and the 
manners of a race who lived in Greece in godlike splendour 
in the luxurious Achaean days, before the Dorian invasion 
burst on Peloponnesus. They justify us in believing that, 
noble as are the Homeric poems, they are the echo of a 
state of society worthy to give them birth ; and they 
help to explain to us why the Greeks of historical times 
regarded their ancestors as a race of heroes and demigods. 

The massive walls of Tiryns enclose the ridge of a long 
and narrow hill, higher at one end than the other. The 
city was thus a lengthy oblong, and it may be divided 
by trisecting its length into three parts, parts which may 
be called the Upper, Middle, and Lower Fortress. It is the 
highest part of the hill only, the site of the Upper Fortress, 
which has as yet been fully excavated. Much yet remains 
to be ascertained ; for there is no doubt that the remains 
of buildings will be found also on the lower parts of the 
ridge. Yet the excavations have already brought to light 
facts so important that it is not necessary to wait for the 
account of the whole site before commenting on the data 
already before us. It seems almost certain that future 
excavations, though they may add to our knowledge of 
the history of Tiryns, will not in any way invalidate 
the conclusions drawn from the excavations with great 
skill by the architects whom Dr. Schliemann had the 
good fortune to associate with himself in the work of 
discovery on the site. 

As to the history of Tiryns, only two or three statements 

94 New Chapters in Greek History, [Chap. iv. 

have come down to us from antiquity, and it is a curious 
fact that most of these are called in question by Dr. 
Schliemann, whom we should have supposed to be the last 
man likely to fall a victim to too great historical scepticism. 
In some cases he has, in our opinion, needlessly attacked 
tradition. The first statement is that the walls of the city 
were built for King Proetus by Cyclopean builders, who 
were natives of Lycia. This is a matter which we shall be 
compelled hereafter more fully to discuss. The second 
statement is the assertion of Diodorus and Pausanias, that 
the destruction of Tiryns was brought about by the Argives 
after the Persian wars, and was partly caused by the 
jealousy of the Argives because Mycenae and Tiryns had 
furnished men to the Greek armies at Thermopylae and 
Plataea, whereas they themselves had not. Professor 
Mahaffy has thrown doubt on this assertion, maintaining 
on the other hand that the ruin of Mycenae and Tiryns 
took place much earlier, and Schliemann declares that his 
theory is borne out by the evidence of the excavations. 

Of course if it could be proved from archaeological 
evidence that Mycenae and Tiryns were entirely ruined 
long before the Persian wars, we should then be com- 
pelled to correct Pausanias ; but this is not the case. 
Even if no remains belonging to the seventh and sixth 
centuries had come to light in the upper part of the citadel, 
they might still remain underground in the lower part of the 
citadel which has not yet been explored. But as a matter 
of fact, a Doric capital has been already found at Tiryns, 
which is given by Mr. Fergusson to about B.C. 6o0. 
This capital is in itself an indication that Tiryns, though 
like Mycenae greatly reduced in the Dorian invasion, still 
survived in the sixth century ; and so strongly confirms 
the testimony of Pausanias. 

Having thus cleared the ground, we shall venture with 
bolder hand to sketch out the great periods of Tirynthian 

CnAP. IV J The Palace at Tiryns. 95 

history as revealed to us in the remains which have come 
to Hght. 

Schliemann and Dorpfeld are agreed that the great 
walls of Tiryns do not belong to the earliest settlement 
which we can discover. In certain parts of the Acropolis 
quantities of pottery were found which resembled that very 
early kind of ware which was discovered in the primitive 
strata at Hissarlik, and which is familar to many people in 
London in consequence of the exhibition of much of it 
some years ago in the South Kensington Museum. This 
must be assigned to a very remote antiquity indeed, to 
days when the Acropolis of Tiryns was a mere place of 
security for a few fishermen who dwelt in rocky caves at 
the spot where Nauplia now stands ; to days before the 
Phoenicians had established their commerce among the 
islands and coasts of Greece, and before Greece had 
developed any of those activities which form the starting- 
point for European history. A few traces of floors and 
foundations belonging to this pre-historic, and in fact 
pre-traditional city, have been found ; but they are of 
small importance. It is with the building of the massive 
walls and with the planning of the noble palaces of 
Tiryns, with that foundation which Greek tradition has 
connected with the name of the mythical King Proetus, 
that the interest of Tirynthian history begins. 

" Of Tirynthian history " we say, but the very phrase 
warns us that we must guard against misunderstanding. 
For the history of Tiryns, all the history we shall ever 
know, is archaeological. In old days history was regarded 
as the chronicle of the doings of a few great men, their 
successions, their enterprises, their victories and failures. 
Historians found little worth recording but the spread of 
empires, the results of battles, the founding of states. But 
archaeology does not take the same view of history as did 
the historians. Far from recording only wars, she has by 

New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. rv. 

far the most to say about peace and the manners and 
customs of times of quiet. Far from telling us of govern- 
ment and the deeds of heroes, she tells us rather facts 
about the external life of men, of the houses in which 
they lived, the weapons they used, what deities they 
adored, and in what light they regarded the life beyond 
the grave. From the outward facts revealed by spade 
and pick we are enabled to judge of the degree of 
civilisation attained by a nation, of its commerce and its 
art, perhaps of its ethnical affinities, but only rarely of its 
laws or government, or of its moral and intellectual 

Yet the chapter with which the archaeological history 
of Tiryns begins is startling enough. We find that at 
a period which we are enabled by an accumulation of 
evidence to fix to the twelfth or the eleventh century 
before our era, the whole of the upper citadel of Tiryns 
was occupied by the Splendid palace of a wealthy line of 
kings, who seem to show in the details of their luxurious 
abode, and in the massiveness of the great walls with 
which they surrounded it, the possession of wealth and 
splendour far beyond those belonging to any Greeks of 
earlier historical times. The colossal size of the stones 
they used in building, which actually in one case at least 
reach a weight of twenty tons, combined with the fact 
that the mechanical appliances of those remote days were 
extremely simple, proves that they must havfe disposed in 
the most absolute fashion of the labour of countless depen- 
dants. The number of the rooms in the palace, with the 
splendid porticoes and courts by which it was approached, 
testifies to the stateliness of their public life. The bath- 
room, carefully adapted for the purposes of washing, and 
the drains made to carry away superfluous water, show the 
luxuriousness of their personal habits. And the way in 
which the rooms of men and of women are set apart affords 

Chap. IT.] TJie Palace at Tiryns. 97 

us a curious problem as to the position of the husband in 
regard to the wife. 

A moment's reflection will show us that the thing which 
is really by far the most surprising in all this is the fact 
that the site is in Greece proper. If in the lands of 
Phrygia or Lycia, or among the hills of Etruria, we had 
found the same proofs of the ancient existence of wealthy 
and powerful and civilised nobles, we should have been far 
less surprised. We should expect the Mermnadae of 
Lydia, or the Phrygian princes of the line of Midas, to live 
in this royal fashion. But we are accustomed to think of 
Greece as a land of political communities, of little self- 
governing states with agora, and harbour, and senate- 
house, and with an acropolis covered not with a palace, 
but with the temples of the gods. Such is the Greece of 
history. But utterly different was pre-historic Greece. 
There is a broad line dividing mythical from political 
Hellas, a line which seems to coincide with the great break 
made in the continuity of. Hellas by the Dorian invasion. 
On the older side of that line we see the castles of magni- 
ficent princes standing amid the huts of their dependants, 
but no trade, no high art, curiously enough, no temples of 
the gods, though rude images of them. On the more 
recent side of the line we see vigorous communities, 
choosing their own governments, carrying on trade with all 
parts of the Mediterranean and Euxine, and planting 
colonies on all shores, full of the highest artistic feelings, 
and building on the heights where the royal castles had 
stood those magnificent temples to Apollo and Athene, 
Zeus and Poseidon, which were the centres of all the 
higher life of Hellas, so long as Hellas lived. But the 
tendency to revert to an original type is as strong in 
nations as in breeds of animals. So in Greek history we 
find constant instances of reversion towards the early 
organisation in the rise of those tyrannies which were a 


98 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap, iv, 

poor and feeble imitation of the splendour of monarchy. 
The Greece which we know and love, the Greece of art 
and song, of religion and philosophy, of conquest and 
trade, came to birth at the Dorian invasion, and is, in 
great part at least, the child of the Dorian genius and 
loftiness of character. 

Just such a contrast as exists between prehistoric and 
historic Hellas, exists also in Greek literature between 
Homer and the later poets. The Homeric poetry may 
have been reduced to form after the splendour of the 
Ionian and Achaean chiefs had passed away ; but it breathes 
all the spirit of their sway. With Homer, too, the chief is 
the only man worthy of a thought, the common herd are 
fit only to be slain by him in the field of battle, or dragged 
by him into slavery. To Homer also cunning works of 
art show the influence of Cyprus, Phoenicia, and the East. 
Homer knows comparatively little of temples of the gods. 
The courts and the camps described in the Iliad and 
Odyssey are rather akin to those of Lydians or Etruscans 
than of historic Greeks. We must, however, guard our- 
selves from misunderstanding. In using the name of 
Homer, we do not of course assert that the Homeric 
poems had a single author. But we do assert the anti- 
quity of those poems. Homer reflects the pre-historic age 
of Greece as truly as does Herodotus the Greece of the 
Persian wars, or Pausanias the Greece of the age of the 
Antonines. We shall therefore make no excuse for using 
the Homeric text when we find in it anything which seems 
to throw light on the antiquities discovered on early Greek 
sites, and more particularly on the site of Tiryns. Espe- 
cially is it desirable to set side by side Homer's descrip- 
tions of palaces like those of Alcinous and Odysseus, and 
the palace of which the remains still exist at Tiryns. 

The plan which accompanies this paper, a reduction of 
that at p. 309 of Schliemann's Tiryns, will enable readers 

Chap. IV.] 

The Palace at Tiryns. 


easily to understand the plan and arrangements of the 
palace of which the foundations have been unearthed at 
Tiryns, and of its surroundings. To the upper citadel, 

'"' ^^y"^ \ilii;>\W J " l'C*^'),l ^' 

lil*i'"^«'!= \\l\ I .^"ill,, 

Sea G 

V"'' L ^^liSw- 


almost the whole space of which it occupies, access could 

be had by two means only. The main entrance through 

j the outer wall was at the north-east corner, to which a 

J gradual ascent from the lower ground led up. Entering 

H 2 

100 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. iv. 

by this way and turning sharply to the left, the visitor 
would pass along a narrow passage between the outer wall 
of the palace and the wall of the citadel, and through a 
mighty gate, of which the socket is in its place to this day. 
We mark on our plan, by a dotted line, the route by which 
we intend to lead our readers. Passing through the gate, 
which probably in plan and construction resembled the 
well-known Lion-gate of Mycenae, our traveller would 
continue his way between the mighty walls, liable if he 
came with hostile intent to be slain by many weapons, even 
after thus obtaining an entrance, by the guard stationed on 
the citadel wall or the roof of the palace. At length he 
would reach the main entry. Students of Greek archi- 
tecture have long been familiar with the fact that the entry 
to Greek sacred areas, such as the Acropolis of Athens 
and the domain of Demeter at Eleusis, were entered 
through a noble propylaeum, of which the form is constant 
and fixed. The Greek propylaeum consists of two porches 
set back to back, whereof one looks outward towards the 
outer world, the other inward towards the enclosure. At 
the common back of the two porches runs a solid wall 
with great gates. The construction combines, as do most 
Greek contrivances, great beauty with great convenience, 
since the two porches offered a pleasing shelter to those 
waiting for the doors to open, whether they wished to go 
out or in. Such is the fixed Greek custom, but it is not a 
little surprising to find a propylaeum of precisely this kind 
guarding the entry to the upper Acropolis of Tiryns. This 
fact by itself seems to carry back the history of Greek 
architecture some centuries. Of course, though the essen- 
tial idea is the same in the pre-historic as in the historic 
Greek doorway, the details differ. We should be dis- 
appointed if we sought at Tiryns the marble pillars, the 
sculptured friezes, the stone roofs which were features of 
.=3uch propylaea as those of Pericles. At Tiryns there were 

Chap. IV.] The Palace at Tiryns. lOi 

pillars indeed, but they were of wood, let into lime- 
stone bases : and the roof instead of being of slabs of stone 
or tiles, was almost certainly made of rushes covered with 
clay, after the fashion still usual in the East ; but while 
materials change, form persists, the idea takes a new ex- 
pression, but does not itself change. 

Through the propylaeum we pass into a large court or 
open space, round the sides of which are buildings used 
no doubt as barracks for the guards, and store-houses for 
provisions. But we shall direct our steps still westwards 
and pass through another propylaeum of smaller size but 
similar construction, which leads direct into the forecourt 
of the men's apartments which corresponds to the avKr] of 
Homer. Afterwards we shall return to the outer propy- 
laeum and make our way to the women's apartments, 
which are at Tiryns kept studiously apart from those of 
the men. 

The men's forecourt is a space of some sixty-eight by 
fifty-two feet. It is carefully paved with a concrete of lime 
and pebbles, and full provision is made for its drainage by 
the slope of the paving to a sink at one corner. It is on 
all four sides surrounded by porticoes, affording cool and 
pleasant retreats from the power of the sun. At one side 
of the court is a square construction of peculiar interest, an 
altar with a hollow pit in the midst of it for the reception 
of the blood of victims. 

Those familiar with the Homeric poems will scarcely 
read these few dry lines of description without recalling 
to mind many a passage in the Iliad and Odyssey, which 
the new discovery sets in fresh light, or which clothes with 
life and reality the skeleton of the new discovery. We 
remember many facts about the ahXr) of the palace of 
Odysseus ; but they at once show us a difference between 
his abode and that of the rulers of Tiryns : the Ithacan 
palace was rude and rustic, and a far less splendid abode 

I02 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. iv. 

than that of which we can now trace the plan. When 
Eumaeus brings his pigs for the feasting of the suitors he 
lets them feed in the forecourt ; and cattle are tethered 
under the porticoes, while slave-women do their grinding 
of meal in the sheds round. Odysseus' house is, in fact, 
the abode of a gentleman-farmer ; the palace of Tiryns is 
more like the glorious abode of Alcinous in Phaeacian fairy- 
land, or the splendid house of Menelaus, which glittered 
like the sun and moon as one drew near to it. Yet the 
difference in this matter is one of scale and of splendour, 
rather than of plan. Telemachus, we learn, had a bed- 
chamber in the forecourt, so had Phoenix : such rooms 
we see at once were in the porticoes which enclosed it. 
The forecourt of Odysseus contained a great altar of Zeus 
Herceius, " whereon Laertes and Odysseus had burned 
many thighs of oxen." So, too, the aged Peleus burned in 
his forecourt the thighs of an ox in honour of thunder- 
loving Zeus. This seems to justify us in identifying the 
altar at Tiryns as that of Zeus. Only one puzzle which 
has long baffled the Homeric commentators remains a 
puzzle. In the forecourt at Ithaca was a 66X01;, a circular 
building of uncertain use ; and as there is no trace of any 
such building in the court at Tiryns, its purpose must 
remain a mystery for the present. 

Homer's heroes when they go to a house always cross 
the court and enter into the /j,eyapov, or great hall of the 
men, through a portico, the echoing aWovaa of which the 
poet often speaks. We must do exactly the same at 
Tiryns, as the plan will show at a glance. The portico 
which we now approach is the frontage of the most 
important part of the whole palace, shown to be so to an 
architect by its occupying the very highest part of the 
citadel, and by its governing the orientation of all the 
parts about it. Though only the foundations of the wall 
remain, to the height of a yard from the ground, yet the 

Chap. IV.] The Palace at Tiryns. 103 

patient induction of Dr. Dorpfeld has enabled him to 
recover many of the details of its construction. Its 
elevation is that called in the case of temples in antis ; 
that is, it has a wall on three sides, while on the fourth 
side, that which faces the court, the place of a wall is taken 
by a couple of columns which supports an architrave and a 
roof. The antae, or foremost parts of the side-walls, 
exhibit sufficient remains in dowel-holes and the like to 
assure us that the walls of the portico were covered by a 
thick panelling of wood, a panelling probably covered in 
turn, if we may trust the analogy of some of the buildings 
at Mycenae and the Homeric testimony, with plates of 
bronze, which may well indeed have glittered like the sun 
and like the moon. 

In the back wall of this portico were three doors, each 
provided with a stone sill (every one will remember 
Homer's Xalvo'i ovSo^), leading into a sort of vestibule, from 
which a door again led into the main hall or megaron. 
It would seem that this vestibule was a feature only of 
very spacious or splendid houses : and we have reasons for 
thinking that usually the portico opened immediately into 
the main hall. Into this latter, therefore, we will proceed. 
It is a room of fine proportions, some forty feet by thirty- 
two in size, and we can still trace the foundations of the 
two rows of columns by which it was divided into three 
oblong sections. In the midst of the room is a round 
foundation, which indicates, almost beyond doubt, the 
place where was situate that hearth which was the centre 
alike of the Greek house and of the Greek religion, at least 
in early and patriarchal days. The floor was paved with 
good concrete in which a simple pattern of crossing lines 
was introduced for variety. For the four pillars which 
stand round the hearth we can cite a Homeric analogy. 
When Nausicaa in the sixth book of the Odyssey is 
directing Odysseus to her father's hall, she says "When 

104 iV^w Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. I v. 

thou art within the shadow of the house and the forecourt, 
pass quickly through the hall, till thou reachest my 
mother, who sits by the hearth in the firelight weaving a 
purple web, a wonder to see. She rests against a pillar, 
and behind her sit her maids." The hint afforded by the 
Tirynthian palace makes it clear to us where would be 
the seat of Arete. 

Such are the bare facts observable on the floor of the 
hall, but an architect like Dr. Dorpfeld is entitled to draw 
a few cautious inferences. Some of the safest of these 
regard the method of lighting and warming the hall. It is 
quite certain that as the hall has but a single door into the 
vestibule, itself not very light, light cannot have entered 
nor the smoke of the fire escaped by means of the door 
only. The hall of Odysseus is indeed spoken of in the 
Odyssey as dark, and the armour hanging in it is said to 
have been blackened by smoke ; but the room must have 
nevertheless been habitable. At Tiryns the arrangement 
of the pillars in itself suggests what plan of lighting was 
adopted. Dorpfeld ingeniously argues that the four pillars 
mark the four corners of a part of the roof which was 
different from the rest ; for he observes that had the pillars 
merely borne beams running the length of the hall from 
end to end, then the space between pillar and pillar, and 
between pillar and bounding wall, would have been equal, 
which is not the case, for the places of the pillars by no 
means divide the length of the hall into three equal parts. 
But the question may still be raised whether the space 
of roof which lies between the four pillars was left open, so 
as to form a hypaethral aperture, or whether the roof at 
that part was merely carried to a higher level, and open- 
ings for windows left at the side. Dorpfeld remarks :— 

"It might be assumed that the whole square between 
the pillars was open ; but so large an aperture, even in the 
southern climate of Tiryns, would have made the hall 

Chap. IV.] The Palace at Tiryns. 105 

temporarily uninhabitable in winter. It would answer 
much better to cover the square included by the pillars, 
after the manner of a basilica, with a higher roof ; in the 
vertical walls of the upper-structure (clere-story) smaller or 
larger apertures could be introduced, through which not 
only light would enter into the megaron, but also the 
smoke from the hearth would find an easy escape." 
, The late Mr. James Fergusson also discussed, in a 
work apparently known to Dr. Dorpfeld only by hearsay, 
precisely the same question in regard to the lighting of 
the Parthenon at Athens, and arrived at a similar con- 
clusion ; he even constructed a model of the Parthenon 
on the principle of basilican lighting, of which the effect 
is most pleasing. The concurrence of two such able 
authorities should be sufficient for mere laymen, especially 
when we consider that this method of lighting was certainly 
in use in Egypt at quite an early period, and that its 
existence in primitive Greece would account, better than 
anything else, for the arrangement of triglyph and metope 
as it existed in Doric temples of historical times. Only 
we must observe that in his statement that a room with 
hypaethral opening would be uninhabitable Dorpfeld goes 
too far, and appears entirely to overlook the well-known 
fact that hypaethral courts were quite usual in Greek 
houses of historical times. It seems that moderns are far 
more tender to the weather than were the Greeks of 
Homeric or historic days. 

Truly delightful is it with these new facts, so securely 
based, in our minds to turn once more to the doings 
of Odysseus and Telemachus in the Odyssey, which no 
longer seem to have taken place in some dim palace of 
romance, but in a hall of which the arrangements and 
details are familiar to us. Through the whole Homeric 
tale a light spreads like that which the presence of 
Athene spreads in the hall at Ithaca. " A wondrous sight, 

io6 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. iv. 

my father, meets my eyes. Meseems that the walls of the 
hall, and the fair main-beams, and the cross-beams of pine 
and the pillars that sustain them, are bright to my eyes 
as if with flaming fire." Here is a stone threshold like 
that across which Telemachus stepped, as he placed his 
spear in the spear-stand at the door and went in. Here 
is a hall where many a noisy crew of Achaean chiefs may 
have feasted and drunk and quarrelled. Here is a hearth 
on which they roasted great joints of oxen and swine, 
and sent down portions to strangers, seated like Odysseus 
on the threshold. Around hung the shields blackening 
in the curling smoke, or shining with fire when at night 
the braziers were kindled, and jest and song went on far 
into the night, till the feasters went out to cool their 
heated heads by sleeping in the airy porticoes of the court. 
Perhaps this floor, like that of Odysseus, once ran with 
blood during foreign invasion or faction fight, before the 
fire came which consumed all the woodwork of the palace, 
and left everywhere those charred remains which mark 
the end of the gay old Achaean life of Tiryns and the 
beginning of Argive ascendency. 

Among the rooms which cluster about the megaron at 
Tiryns is one of quite unique interest. This is a small 
chamber, in size some ten feet by twelve, whereof the floor 
is formed of a single gigantic slab of stone, weighing about 
twenty tons, and the walls were wainscoted with solid and 
close-fitting planks. A gully at the corner, evidently 
made for the exit of water, at once suggested that this 
was a bath-room, and no other theory seems tenable. 
That Homer's heroes, like Greeks of later times, betook 
themselves to the baths before they went to dine in the 
hall, is well known to all scholars ; and here again excava- 
tion gives illustration to the poet's words. Homer speaks 
^of the chiefs as repairing to the iv^ea-rai da-dfiivdoi, and the 
commentators have variously interpreted the phrase in the 

Chap. IV.] The Palace at Tiryns. 107 

light rather of their own ingenuity than of comparative 
archaeology. But a fragment of a large terra-cotta vessel 
evidently used in bathing has come to light at Tiryns, 
proving beyond reasonable doubt that the bathing customs 
of the Homeric Greeks differed but little from those which 
the representations on vases show to have prevailed in 
historical times. In the midst of the floor of the bath- 
room was placed a large vessel full of warm water. In 
this, after laying aside his clothes, the bather sat, or over 
it he cowered, while a bathing man ladled over him the 
water which, falling on the floor, ran away by the sink in 
a corner of the room. After the washing came rubbing 
and oiling. It is however to be observed that the place 
of the bathing-man is in the Homeric descriptions supplied 
by a woman, sometimes even a high-born lady. At Pylos, 
Polycasta, youngest daughter of Nestor, bathes and dresses 
young Telmachus. Helen bathes Odysseus when he comes 
to Troy as a spy, and recognises him in the bath by 
personal marks, as does old nurse Euryclea at a later 
period. It seems to be a mark of the extreme modesty 
of the same hero that he declines to be bathed by the 
maidens of Nausicaa. Thus always when we compare 
Homeric and later Hellenic customs, we find strong like- 
ness and sharp contrast, presenting to the historian and 
anthropologist one of the most fascinating of fields for 
study, a field which they cannot as yet be said to have 
fully occupied. 

Thus far the discoveries of which we have spoken have 
in the main confirmed the commentators on Homeric 
antiquities ; but we now arrive at a fact which is totally 
unexpected. At Tiryns we find a second set of buildings 
by the side of those which we have described, smaller in 
scale, but very similar in design. Dorpfeld regards it as 
certain that this set of apartments belonged to the women, 
as the first set to the men. From the outer propylaeum 

io8 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. iv. 

a narrow way led between walls to a forecourt, like that 
of the men but smaller (see plan) ; and facing this court 
stands a hall with its vestibule, and in the midst of the hall 
a hearth. Between this women's hall and the outer wall of 
the palace cluster a number of rooms of various sizes, and 
there is reason to believe that it is possible to indicate the 
place where there was a staircase, leading to an upper 
story, of which of course no trace now remains. Among 
these rooms Dorpfeld would look for the bed-chamber 
of the mistress of the palace, for the treasury where the 
valuables were kept, and other rooms necessary to a 
princely establishment. 

That this scheme of arrangement was by no means 
peculiar to Tiryns appears certain when we re-examine 
the ruins of that city on the hill of Hissarlik, which 
Dr. Schliemann, not without some reason, regards as the 
historical prototype of the Homeric Troy. There we find 
as central mass of the remains* two oblong blocks of 
buildings side by side, a lesser and a larger, which at first 
Schliemann, misled by Hellenic analogy, supposed to be 
temples. There can now be little doubt that they are not 
temples at all. Temples occupied the acropolis hills of 
sites in Greece and Asia Minor in historical times, but not 
in these pre-historic days which are so fast becoming 
clearer to us. Then the most important places were 
occupied by those earthly gods or god-like heroes, the 
wealthy and splendid race of Zeus-descended kings. At 
Hissarlik too then we must take the ruins to be those of 
the men's and women's apartments respectively ; and in 
fact looking on their ground-plan in the new light, we at 
once see the remains of the family hearth. 

Also the recent excavations of the Greek Archaeological 
Society at Mycenae have resulted, as we have already 
mentioned, in the discovery there of the foundations of a 
* See cut, p. 53. 

Chap. IV.] The Palace at Tiryns. 109 

palace nearly resembling in ground-plan that of Tiryns. 
These foundations, ill-preserved as they are, afford us 
valuable indications of date. Above them and coverine 
them were the foundations of a Greek temple of the Doric 
order, a fact which proves beyond all dispute their pre- 
historic character. About the palace were found fragments 
of pottery of the Mycenaean class, and fragmentary fresco 
paintings which seem once to have decorated the walls. 
We learn that at Cnossus also have been found in con- 
junction one with the other, a palace of the Tirynthian 
class and Mycenaean pottery. We have thus to do, not 
with an isolated phenomenon, but with one of a class. 
We must suppose that if trial were made on the acropolis 
hills of Greece we should, in the pre-historic strata, find 
parallels to what has been found at Tiryns. We must 
therefore regard it as proved that in the pre-historic Greek 
palace, the men's apartments and the women's stood apart, 
though side by side, each with its own fore-court, vesti- 
bule and hall. The obvious means of communication at 
Tiryns is by making a long circuit, which takes us almost 
to the gate of the citadel. It also appears that it is 
possible to find a way from the bath-room to the women's 
court. It is, however, evidently absurd to suppose that 
the chief, when he wished to visit the apartments of his 
wife, would make a long excursion through the town, 
and not likely that the usual route would be by the 
bath-room. There must have been some closer means 
of communication, and since we possess knowledge as 
to the foundations only, it is reasonable to suppose 
that there was a communicating doorway above the 
foundations, an opaoOvpri such as that mentioned in the 
Odyssey, as leading out of the men's hall towards the 
women's apartments. This separation of men and women 
at Tiryns and Mycenae has been the ground of much 
controversy, because it appears to be inconsistent with the 

I lo New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. iv. 

customs of the Achaean heroes as described by Homer. 
We shall return to the subject in the chapter which deals 
specially with the Homeric questions raised by recent 

We must, however, pass on from the ground-plan of the 
palace at Tiryns to one or two important discoveries of 
detail. The dpt^Ko^ Kvdvoio, the cyanus frieze, which the 
excavations brought to light in the vestibule of the men's 
hall, probably adorned that chamber, at some height above 
the ground. This beautiful frieze is made of alabaster, 
carved in patterns of Egyptian character, with pieces of 
blue glass inserted at intervals, to give it colour and 
variety. In this case, too, recent archaeology had proved 
the soundness of its methods, by giving an explanation very 
near to the truth. Dr. Helbig had argued that the frieze 
of cyanus could not be of steel, or any of the other metals 
which have been suggested, but must have consisted of 
small plates of blue enamel, inserted into some underlying 
substance, and worked into the pattern of a frieze. This 
is remarkably near the truth, and fresh proof that archae- 
ology, having arrived at a capacity for divining what is not 
yet discovered, has the right to be considered a fully 
established science. 

Scarcely inferior to the alabaster frieze in interest, and 
very similar to it in design, are the mural paintings of 
which fragments were found in many parts of the palace. 
It is useless to attempt to describe their designs, for they 
can only be studied or understood by turning to the plates 
of Schliemann's Tiryns. Their style is perfectly unmis- 
takable : every one who has turned over Rosellini's or 
Lepsius' plates of Egyptian architectural designs will see 
that their true parentage is Egyptian. No one who has 
learned the lesson of Mycenae, or has seen a drawing of 
the marvellous stone ceiling of purely Egyptian pattern 
which was found by Schliemann in the conical tomb at 

Chap. IV.] The Palace at Tiryns. 1 1 1 

Orchomenus, would be surprised to find in the wall-decora- 
tions at Tiryns designs of Egyptian origin. But when we 
use the phrase " of Egyptian origin," we must do so with 
circumspection. The native art of Egypt is now known to 
be, not less than Greek art, a thing of gradual evolution 
along definite lines. In this fixed and ordered series the 
patterns at Tiryns have no place. They are eclectic and 
eccentric ; in fact, they are what archaeologists term bar- 
barous imitations. The idea of them comes from Egypt, 
but in the realization we see the genius of another race. 
And there is a curious peculiarity about the transcription. 
When Gauls and Britons copy the coins of Massilia, or of 
Philip of Macedon, they have an inveterate tendency to 
pervert lines and patterns into animal and vegetable forms : 
on the Gaulish coins, in particular, we find quite a be- 
wildering variety of winged monsters, boars, dragons, and 
birds, all developed out of the simple head of Apollo and 
the chariot of Philip's gold pieces. At Tiryns we discover 
precisely the same tendency. The Egyptian patterns grow 
into the form of birds or winged monsters, some of which 
have so much of pattern and so little of animal about them, 
that it takes a close study to discover the radical perversion 
which has taken place, a perversion exactly the opposite to 
that to which we are accustomed in modern art, where 
animals and plants become conventional and sink into 
patterns. The delight in animal form was very strong in 
Phoenician and early Greek art, and dominated it more 
and more as time went on. In one specimen of Tirynthian 
wall-decoration we have a direct and curiously vigorous 
representation of animal form, in that very remarkable bull, 
bearing a human figure on its back, which is one of the 
most startling results of Dr. Schliemann's excavations, and 
which furnishes a new illustration of the law, that in all art 
of all nations there are spasmodic outbreaks of naturalism, 
sudden touches of that nature which makes the whole 

112 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. iv. 

world kin. We may compare the bulls of the Bapheion 
vases figured at p. 71. 

The massive Cyclopean walls which surround the citadel 
of Tiryns, and which formed an outer line of defence to 
the royal palace, are familiar to travellers. But things 
familiar to us often hide from us their secrets. So it is 
here. The industry and ingenuity of Dorpfeld have re- 
vealed to us many unsuspected facts in regard to these 
walls. Firstly, it is now proved that the universal belief 
that they were constructed without mortar is erroneous. 
A strong cement of lime held together the huge polygonal 
masses of stone : this has now disappeared from the face 
of the wall, having been washed out by the rain, but still 
remains in the interior of the structure. Secondly, the 
nature and uses of the galleries which have long been 
known to exist in the thickness of the walls have been 
fully explored. It is now shown that in two cases at least 
these galleries led to a number of vaulted chambers, built 
in the wall, and probably used for the storage of provisions 
and water and warlike material. Some of these chambers 
appear at the top of our plan. Thirdly, it seems to be 
quite established that there existed on the top of the wall 
a covered way, a gallery or portico, admirably adapted for 
the shelter of the garrison of the castle, and for the dis- 
comfiture of assailants. If all cities of pre-historic Greece 
were thus fortified and provided, it is no wonder that 
Thebes repulsed Tydeus and his comrades, and that the 
siege of Troy lasted ten years. A further very interesting 
discovery is that the citadel-wall is pierced on the west 
side by a postern gate, from which a long and winding 
stone staircase leads (see plan, p. 99) up into the back 
of the palace. 

Dr. Dorpfeld lays great stress on the fact that recent 
excavations have revealed in the massive walls which sur- 
round Byrsa, the citadel of ancient Carthage, galleries and 

Chap. IV.] 

The Palace at Tiryns. 


chambers for storage, which in plan and construction differ 
but slightly from those at Tiryns. He even goes so far as 
to say,* " So long as a similar casemate-like construction 
has not been found in Lycia, or in any other district of 
Asia Minor which had not been visited by the Phoenicians, 
the conformity between the structures of Tiryns and Byrsa 
must be looked upon as a proof that both were erected by 



Phoenician builders." These words were written before the 
palaces at Mycenae and elsewhere were found, and it is not 
likely that Dr. Dorpfeld still holds the opinion expressed 
in them. But the question raised in them is one which it 
is necessary to discuss. In doing this, however, I will 
postpone further enquiry how far the palace at Tiryns 
corresponds to the data of the Odyssey, to the chapter 
which deals with Homeric Archaeology. 

Primitive legend, if that be worth anything, is most 
explicit as to the connections of the early kings, if not 
the early inhabitants of Tiryns. The city was built, we are 

* Tiryns, p. 325. 


1 14 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. iv. 

told, by Cyclopes, whom the Argive Proetus brought with 
him from Lycia. This is but one of several tales which 
indicate close connection in pre-historic times between 
Argolis and Lycia, and these tales form together a group 
among several groups of legends which go to prove that 
the princely houses of Greece had frequent intercourse 
with the princely houses of the Asiatic coast, of Troas and 
Phrygia and Lycia and Cyprus. We hear continually of 
migrations of the heads of clans from Asia to Europe, or 
from Europe to Asia ; and everything indicates that they 
were of kindred races, living the same kind of life and 
strongly united together by aristocratic class feelings. 
Whether, therefore, the race which ruled in Tiryns were 
Achaean, or Lycian, or Phrygian, or even of Phoenician 
extraction, does not greatly matter. They were the sort 
of kings of whom tradition speaks, and through such in 
their day passed the line of succession of Hellenic ideas 
and nascent European civilisation. It is clear, then, that 
the ruling race of Tiryns may fairly be considered as 
Greek, for all practical purposes. And the people whom 
they ruled were almost certainly of Hellenic stock. Works 
of such magnitude as these colossal walls are not raised 
by a handful of resident aliens ; they are the result of the 
slow and patient labour of the people of the country 
where they exist. 

But the main question is, after all, not as to the nationality 
of either king or people, but of the architects who directed 
and controlled the works. Shall we declare them to have 
been Phoenician } This is a more hopeful question, for 
the existing remains give us much material for an answer. 
For our part, we do not think that the evidence, as a whole, 
indicates Phoenician architects. Years ago we were all 
strongly inclined to the belief that the Phoenicians were 
the main channel through which civilisation flowed into 
Greece. But of late years evidence to the contrary has 

Chap. IV.] Tlie Palace at Tiryns. 1 1 5 

increased. Mr. Ramsay has found in Phrygia great lions 
carved on the rocks, which seem clearly to be in the direct 
line of descent of Greek decorative sculpture. And still 
more recently the excavations at Naucratis have proved 
that the Greeks borrowed largely from the Egyptians 
direct, and not through the mediation of the Phoenicians. 
We cannot therefore allow that the existence at Tiryns of 
a particular mode of erecting storehouses in the walls, 
which is found also on Phoenician sites, proves necessarily 
the presence there of Phoenician architects. Phoenicians 
and Greeks, and the natives of Asia Minor, may very 
probably all have acquired the method of construction 
from some common and older source. 

The fact rather is, as ndeed Dr. Adler points out in his 
Preface to Tiryns, that the architecture and art of Tiryns, 
and of the closely similar city of Mycenae, present analogies 
to the remains of several ancient peoples. The general 
form of the conical tombs, like the so-called Treasury of 
Atreus, with its underground dromos or approach, seems to 
derive from Phrygia, where dwellings of this form, and 
similarly covered by a mound of earth, existed in the time 
of Xenophon, and exist even to this day. To Phrygia, 
too, we may trace back the style of the sculptured lions 
over the gate of Mycenae. The wooden pillars, and the 
roofs formed of trees laid side by side, of which we find 
imitations in the stone construction at Tiryns and 
Mycenae, remind us of the tomb-architecture of Lycia and 
of Phrygia, the style of which is based on the use of wood. 
The beautiful carved ceiling of Orchomenus, and the painted 
wall-patterns of Tiryns, distinctly derive from Egypt, 
v/hether directly or through the mediation of the Phoeni- 
cians. And besides all this, there is both at Tiryns and 
Mycenae a great deal of decoration and drawing, which 
seems autochthonous. The Mycenaean warriors, the bulls 
of Tiryns and Bapheion, a thoroughly Hellenic torch-holder 

I 2 

Ii6 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. iv. 

from Tiryns, all betray native Greek ideas and art. In 
this connexion we must mention also the pipes used in the 
drainage of the Tirynthian palace, which closely resemble 
those used in the aqueduct constructed at Samos by 
Eupalinus. It seems therefore most probable, judging 
from the evidence at present available, that the walls and 
palaces of the Argolid were not merely raised by Greek 
hands, but also designed by a Greek brain, though we may 
trace in them the influence of several of the peoples which 
surrounded the Greeks, and which were probably at the 
time more advanced than they in material civilisation. 

The palace walls of Tiryns and of Mycenae, combined 
with the rich treasures of the Mycenaean tombs, serve well 
to make our notion of the life of the heroes of Greek 
legend more complete and more vivid. 

These discoveries prove that the summits of the hills 
of Greece, which in the historic age were covered with the 
temples of the gods, and with works of art dedicated to 
them, were at an earlier period dedicated not to gods but 
to men. There rose the noble palaces of the ancient kings 
of the cities of Greece, god-descended monarchs on whose 
luxury and prowess, on whose immoderate pride and 
ruinous crimes the legends told in later Greece loved to 
dwell, and whose memories furnished subjects to Sophocles 
and Euripides, as well as to the earlier epic poets. On 
high they dwelt, fenced in by strong walls, like our own 
barons of the Middle Ages ; while around the foot of their 
Acropolis-rocks clustered the dwellings of the common 
people whom they ruled with a rod of iron. Sidonian 
merchants brought them slaves, or the rich products of 
Egypt and Cyprus ; while they lived, thousands of obedient 
serfs toiled on their lands or reared their fortress-walls ; 
and when they died they were buried in chambers lined 
with plates of bronze, and filled with the richest offerings 
that could be found in Greece, or brought from lands of 

Chap. IV.] The Palace at Tiryns. 1 17 

older civilisation. Their easy lives passed amid a pomp 
which we should associate rather with the courts of Sardes 
or Cyprus than with the cities of Greece. This was the 
golden age of which Hesiod writes, when the heavens were 
nearer and the gods were more familiar ; when deities 
looked with favour on daughters of men, and there were 
born giants and warriors of superhuman prowess and 
undying fame. As their palaces shone through the land 
with a light like the light of sun and moon, so do they 
shine through the mists of history radiant and splendid. 

1 1 8 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap; v. 



I HAVE above dwelt strongly on the outer or historical 
side of the discoveries at Mycenae, because, if they are to 
be used at all in illustration of the art of the Homeric 
poems, it is of the utmost importance to know exactly 
what is their date and origin. It is one thing vaguely to 
compare the art products of Mycenae with those spoken 
of in Homer, with a view to finding analogies, and quite 
another thing to proceed after identifying the art familiar 
to the heroes of whom Homer sings, to try to measure by 
means of art the space between them and the Iliad. It is 
this latter task that I would venture in a very slight and 
tentative way to attempt. Of course this is only one line 
of argument, and if its results do not agree with those 
reached on other lines, we must be ready to reconsider 
the matter. 

My view, which it may be well to set forth in few words 
at once, is this : that the art familiar to the authors of the 
Iliad and Odyssey is in many respects like the art revealed 
at Mycenae, but distinctly later, and shewing clear evidence 
of comparative poverty and degradation. 

As to the date and method of composition of the Ho- 
meric poems, I cannot speak either in detail or with 
authority. But I am quite ready to accept the usually 
received view that they grew up during a considerable 
space of time, and contain earlier and later elements. 

Chap. vJ Recent Discoveries and the Homeric Poems. 119 

Wilamowitz's view, which Helbig, after a careful survey of 
the archaeological side of the Homeric question * is quite 
ready to accept, gives the latest parts of the Iliad to the 
eighth century ; the Odyssey to the eighth and seventh 
centuries. But both poems no doubt incorporate legends 
and even ballads of a much earlier period, and it is in the 
earlier parts especially that the Aeolic dialect prevails. 
In the main the Epos belongs to the Aeolian and Ionian 
colonists of Asia Minor ; but they brought much of their 
materials from Greece ; and parts of the Iliad and Odyssey 
as they stand were composed, in Wilamowitz's opinion, 
in that country. Mr. Monro f and Mr. Leaf$ are both 
disposed to think that most of the Homeric poems were 
composed by Achaeans before the Dorian conquest, and 
taken to Asia by the colonists. This I cannot concede ; 
for it seems to me certain that the poets who wrote them 
were speaking of a past which lay some distance behind 

And as the Homeric poems are composite in origin and 
conventional in language, so the civilisation which they 
portray is by no means primitive, but in its way complex 
and artificial. We are constantly tempted to suppose, 
because the Iliad is our earliest specimen of Greek litera- 
ture, that therefore it represents the beginnings of the 
Greek race in all respects. But this is far from being 
the case. The mythology of Homer is incomparably 
more advanced, refined, and artificial, than that which 
meets us in the pages of Pausanias or of Apollodorus. 
The life of the wealthy Achaean kings at home, not 
of course on the battle field, is depicted as more luxu- 
rious than that of any historic Greeks down to the 

* Das Hotnerische Epos aus den Denkmiilern erlautert. 2nd edit. 
1887, p. I. 
t English Historical Review, 1886. 
X Introduction to Schuchhardt's recent work. 

I20 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. Y. 

Hellenistic age. This heaven-descended aristocracy had 
acquired, as dominant aristocracies do acquire, great 
elegance and refinement of life, and an elaborate code of 
manners. In western Greece, Ithaca for instance, life was 
ruder and simpler ; but from what the Homeric poems tell 
us of the courts of eastern Greece, we can judge that they 
represented not the beginnings of culture, but the bloom 
of a culture which had gradually arisen, and which, though 
not advanced, was in its way finished and complete. 

Before we proceed to compare the works -of plastic and 
toreutic art mentioned in Homer with those found recently 
in Greece, it will be necessary to give some sketch, how- 
ever slight and imperfect, of the history of art in Greece 
between the age of Mycenae and historical times. 

It would be very interesting if we could pick out amid 
the Mycenaean spoils those which may be claimed as 
Greek in design, and not imported from abroad. This, 
however, we cannot do with complete certainty. The 
pottery is no doubt of local manufacture, but though it 
makes us acquainted with Greek decorative forms, the 
subjects depicted are so simple as not to help us to judge 
of the state of art in depicting scenes from life. On these 
vases the human form very seldom * occurs. The tomb- 
stones of Mycenae must almost certainly have been made 
on the spot : but it is generally allowed that the designs 
on them are mere copies from work in metal, probably 
on a much smaller scale, and executed by artists unused 
to working in stone. The fragmentary wall-paintings at 
Mycenae and Tiryns were certainly home-made, and were 
they more complete they would afford us the best test 
we have for the establishment of the style in which the 
Achaeans worked. The only complete group in them is 

* There is a remarkable exception in the procession of warriors on 
a vase {Mycenae, p. 133). But this is of doubtful date and unusual 
style ; it may even be an importation from Cyprus. 

Chap. V.] Recent Discoveries and the Homeric Poems. 121 

that of the bull galloping with a man kneeling on his back. 
Some human figures with asses' heads, at Mycenae, are 
also fairly well preserved. 

Putting together what we can learn from these indica- 
tions, we seem to be justified in assuming that the art 
visible in the smaller remains at Mycenae, the engraved 
stones, the gold seals, the thin plates of gold, and the rest, 
represent native rather than foreign art. More elaborate, 
and at a higher level of art, though similar in style, are the 
wonderful sword-blades adorned with scenes inlaid in them, 
scenes which were concealed by rust and oxide from 
discovery by Dr. Schliemann, but afterwards brought to 
light by the patience and ingenuity of Kumanudes. The 
style of the most remarkable, a hunt of three lions by a 
body of warriors armed with shield and spear, is very dis- 
tinctive. The proportions of the figures and their general 
plan are Egyptian. But the whole scene has a life and 
hardy naturalism which belong to Greece : the figures are 
lithe and in motion, not fixed and mechanical. And the 
central touch of the picture, a man lying stretched under 
the fierce attack of a lion who turns on his pursuers, is a 
motive for which one might in vain seek a close prototype 
amid all the sculptures of Egypt and Assyria. In Egyp- 
tian battle-scenes not one of the Egyptian soldiers is 
represented as falling ; but the Greeks saw that the fall of 
a few men while their comrades were victorious is a touch 
which adds pathos and human interest to a battle. And 
it was in virtue of keen and true perceptions like this that 
Greek art at a later time rose to so high a level. The cups 
of Bapheion, too, of which mention has already been 
made, and which are figured on p. 71, appear in spite 
of the introduction of the Syrian palm-tree to be in all 
probability the productions of Greek artistic talent. The 
likeness they bear to the celebrated mural painting of the 
bull at Tiryns indicates this. 

122 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. v. 

Several of the gold signets found in the tombs at 
Mycenae show us a style identical with that of the swords ; 
the men on them are armed in the same way, and carry 
the same sorts of shields. And these signets again lead 
us to the intaglios of early date which are found in Crete 
and Rhodes and other Greek islands, the peculiar style of 
which has offered a basis to the very remarkable theories 
recently put forth by Milchhoefer * as to the existence of a 
native and local style of art in Greece at least as early as 
the twelfth century before the Christian era. 

These intaglios are cut upon small stones of lentoid 
shape, which are pierced with a hole for suspension, and 
probably served the owners as seals or amulets. They are 
not found in Asia, but frequently in the Greek islands, 
Crete, Rhodes, Melos, and Cyprus, and sometimes on the 
mainland of Hellas. Their subjects are distinctive, and it 
is remarkable that they display but little Oriental influence. 
Oriental creatures, the lion, the griffin, and the sphinx, 
appear on them, according to Milchhoefer, but rarely. 
Nearly always they present to us either animals of Euro- 
pean character, bulls, goats, stags, dogs, and the like, or 
subjects derived from Indo-European mythology. Among 
the latter, beings with the head of a horse are conspicuous, 
and Milchhoefer tries with all the resources of learning to 
show that horse-headed monsters belong to the mythology 
of Greece rather than of any other country, and to connect 
them with the tales of the Harpies, of the Gorgon who 
gives birth to the winged horse Pegasus, and the horse- 
headed Demeter worshipped at Phigalia and Thelpusa. 
These gems the writer considers to be the work of the 
Pelasgic race in the islands of the Aegean. He goes too 
far in his theories, no doubt, but his views are very sug- 
gestive, and undoubtedly contain a kernel of truth. 

Thus we are able to identify among objects found at 
* Die Anfdiige der Kunst in Criechenland. Leipzig, 1883. 

Chap. V.] Recent Discoveries and the Homeric Poems. 123 

Mycenae many specimens of native Greek art, as well as 
much work which seems to reveal a Phrygian origin. A 
third element at Mycenae, the Semitic or Phoenician, is far 
less plentifully present. Here and there in the woodcuts 
which illustrate Mycenae we find objects, which seem to 
have been imported from Phoenicia. Such is the figure of 
Aphrodite with a dove resting on her head,* and the gold 
plate which bears a representation of a temple of the same 
goddess with doves seated on it. Through the Phoenicians, 
too, perhaps came the tassel made of Egyptian porcelain, 
which was found in one tomb, and especially an ostrich 
e.g^, which can only have been of African origin. These 
objects prove that Phoenician trade existed at the time of 
the Pelopid kings, but their rarity proves that Phoenician 
commerce had not yet reached the fulness of development 
which belonged to it at a later time. In the Mycenaean 
age the Greeks could hold their own against any people, 
except perhaps the Egyptians, in the richness and beauty 
of their handiwork. Nor do the few Phoenician produc- 
tions from Mycenae show any of that elaboration of design 
and complication of scene which belongs to the Phoenician 
art of the eighth and succeeding centuries. 

Dr. Helbig, who regards the Mycenaean swords and 
seals as works of Phoenician art, does not sufficiently 
consider the difficulty of separating them from works of 
home manufacture ; nor does he allow for the fact of a 
direct Egyptian influence on Greece, which is proved to 
demonstration by the ceiling at Orchomenus. 

Let us follow the archaeological record of Greece down 
to a later time. 

Those who have studied the early history of Greece are 

aware that it offers an extraordinary lacuna between the 

supposed time of the Dorian conquest of Peloponnesus and 

the first Olympiad. The date of the Dorian invasion 

* Mycenae, p. 180. 

1 24 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. v. _ 

according to the received reckoning is 11 04 B.C.; the 
Olympiads begin in 'J^6 B.C. We have thu^ a period of 
three centuries and a quarter which is almost a blank as 
regards events of which we have any knowledge. Yet the 
state of Greece as represented in the mythic legends so 
entirely differs from the state of Greece as it appears in 
the dawning of history, that we are compelled to believe 
that there is a gap of time between. This gap is supposed 
to be filled with obscure events and inglorious names. It 
is supposed that exhausted Greece was in those centuries 
recovering from the benumbing effects of the Dorian con- 
quest, and rising by slow degrees to the height of civilisa- 
tion from which she had fallen during the wandering of 
the tribes. But it would appear that this blank space of 
time held the seeds of the rapid development of aftertimes. 
It was then that wealthy and prosperous Greek colonies 
grew up along the whole Asiatic coast, and Cumae arose 
as the first outpost of Hellas towards the west. Into this 
period falls the Lycurgean legislation, which laid the 
foundation of the greatness of Sparta, and the rise of the 
Homeric and Hesiodic schools of poetry, which fixed for 
all time the main outlines of Greek mythology and the 
Greek language. 

It is not a little remarkable that in the archaeological 
record of Greece there is a gap which closely corresponds- 
to the gap in Greek history. The objects found at 
Mycenae, and the kindred objects found in the excavations 
at Bapheion and Menidi, belong to the time before the 
Dorian invasion. The art remains of the next age are 
comparatively very poor, alike as regards style and ma- 
terial. But they exist in the lowest strata of the remains 
at Olympia, in the continued series of the island-gems in 
Melos and Thera, and elsewhere. The most interesting 
remains of the post-Dorian age exist where the Dorians 
did not penetrate, in Attica. In the very early cemetfery 

Chap. V.] Recent Discoveries and the Homeric Poems. 125 

of the Dipylon at Athens have been discovered works in 
bronze and other materials which must be given to this 
period, which exhibit in their decoration that geometrical 
style of art which seems to belong to most races at a 
certain low stage of their civilisation. The Dipylon pottery 
also,* although contemptible from the point of view of art, 
is interesting from the subjects portrayed on it, chariot- 
races, the laying out of corpses, sacred dances and pro- 
cessions. It is as clearly historic in age, in spite of its 
rudeness, as Mycenaean art is pre-historic, and some of the 
later specimens even bear inscriptions in Greek letters. 

The Dipylon pottery is about the highest representative 
of art after the Dorian conquest of Peloponnesus. It is 
probable enough that the Dorians were slow in acquiring 
the use of the arts, not being naturally aesthetic. And it 
may be that the conquered lonians and Achaeans had 
small chance, amid their struggles for bare existence, to 
continue or develop their artistic activity. So while it is 
possible that carefully conducted excavations amid the 
ruins of the cities of Aeolis and Ionia might bring to light 
the traces of an art linked on one side to the art of 
); Mycenae, and on the other side to the art of historical 
Greece, yet it will scarcely be wonderful if that art, if 
discovered, will disappoint us by its meagreness and want 
of energy. But of course this is a question to which the 
'' final answer can only come from the spade. 

It is in the eighth or seventh century before the Christian 
era that Greek history, and indeed the history of Europe, 
may be said to begin. This period witnessed the colonising 
of Sicily and lower Italy by Greeks, and the rapid spread 
of Milesian trading stations in the Euxine, the conquest of 
the MesSenians by Sparta, the rise of lyric poetry, and 
the Establishment of the Olympic festival, to be for a 

* The most convenient account of early Greek pottery will be found 
in Rayet and Collignon's Histoire de la C^ramique Grecque. 

126 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. v. 

thousand years a tie to bind Hellas together. And it 
saw a revival of art, which had its origin in the East 
and thence spread over the islands of Greece into the 
mainland. The spread of the use of writing, and the 
gradual introduction of coins, accompany henceforth the 
slow development of sculpture out of mere decoration ; so 
that at any later time we have means for assigning a date 
within fairly narrow limits to any objects of Greek art 
which we may find. 

We must very briefly follow this new wave of art, which 
passed westward from Phoenicia along the shores of the 
Mediterranean. Especially in the case of two materials, 
metal and pottery, we can trace stage by stage the spread- 
ing influence. Let us begin with metal-work. In one of 
the palaces of Nimroud excavated by Sir H. Layard there 
were found a number of bowls of bronze, with designs of 
repousse work, which now form a chief ornament of the 
Assyrian galleries of the British Museum. The palace in 
which they lay was not built by King Sargon, but he is 
believed to have used it. And as the bowls in question do 
not exhibit the style which we recognise as Assyrian, but 
are, on the contrary, of distinctly Egyptian type, it seems 
clear that they were importations from abroad. It is 
regarded by archaeologists as almost certain that they 
were some of the spoils brought home by Sargon in the 
course of his conquest of Phoenicia about B.C. 720. These 
vases then give us a view of the art of Phoenicia at that 
time. We cannot here give any detailed description of 
them ; * it must suffice to say that they show throughout 
an intelligent appreciation of the ideas and customs of 
Egyptian art, but in imitating that art they adapt ; they 
add as well as \ose in copying. But they introduce few 
forms and few ideas foreign to the art of Egypt. Baby- 

* Layard, Nineveh, 2nd series. Parrot et Chipiez, Hist, de I'Art, 
vol. ii. 

Chap, y.] Recent Discoveries and the Homeric Poems. 127 

Ionia and Assyria contribute comparatively little- to 

Other metal bowls of silver and bronze, which are also 
ascribed to Phoenician workshops, have been found in 
various countries of the Mediterranean, more particularly 
in Etrui'ia and Cyprus. These bowls have been repeatedly 
published * and discussed. Their most remarkable charac- 
teristic lies in the way in which they combine the represen- 
tations of Egyptian and Assyrian art. In alternate bands, 
sometimes in alternate groups of the same band, we may 
discern, mingled together, Egyptian kings slaying their 
foes, Assyrian monarchs hunting lions, the scarabaeus of 
Egypt, the sacred tree of Assyria, scenes of ritual such as 
figure on the walls of Egyptian tombs, and incidents of 
court life such as we see depicted on the walls of the 
palaces of Nimroud. These vessels of thoroughly eclectic 
or mixed art belong to a later period than the vases of 
Nimroud, which show mainly Egyptian influence. They 
must belong to the seventh and the sixth centuries before 
the Christian era ; and this date will well suit the objects 
found with them in Cyprus and in Etruria. 

There can be no doubt that works in metal so finished 
and effective as these engraved Phoenician bowls must 
have had great influence in Greece, and Italy, more espe- 
cially because they came at a time when the old art of 
Greece was nearly extinct, and no new art had yet arisen 
to take its place. In Etruria we find careful and well- 
executed copies of some of the more usual and mechanical 
designs on these bowls. We might have imagined that 
the importation of works so complete into Greece would 
have produced in that land also mere imitations more or 
less perfect. But careful copying did not suit the Greek 
nature. Hellenic artists were at all periods original and 

* L. P. di Cesnola, Cyprus, pi. xix. Perrot et Chipiez, Hist, de 
I'Art, vol. iii. pp. 759, 769, 779, &c., 

128 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap, y, 

productive. So though Phoenician metal-work stimulated 
them into activity, the line taken by that activity was 
original and national. What it was will more clearly 
appear if we consider the history of the decoration of vases 
at the same period. 

The spreading Oriental influence of which we have 
spoken may be traced less clearly in those vases of Cyprus 
which were probably executed by Phoenician hands, than 
in the pottery discovered at Camirus, in Rhodes, in such 
quantities by Salzmann and Biliotti.* The designs of 
these remarkable vessels show us in many points influences 
which must be Oriental. The rows of animals which 
surround the vases in bands, each animal in exactly the 
same attitude as the other, show close analogy to the 
Phoenician bowls of Nimroud. Among these animals 
those predominate of which the eastern origin is clear, 
the lion, the sphinx, the grifiin, and many other winged 
monsters such as the Asiatic brain alone originates. The 
field of the vases is filled with floral ornaments and 
rosettes, which is a mark of Assyrian influence. And in 
the decoration of the vases two forms predominate, the 
lotus, alternately flower and bud, which belongs to Egypt, 
and the sacred tree which is a distinguishing feature of 
Assyrian decoration. On the Dipylon vases, on the other 
hand, such Oriental designs are notably absent, and the 
scenes bear far more the character of home-invention. 

The colouring of these vases is rich, and they are 
beautiful with a certain mechanical completeness. In their 
way they are specimens of very successful decoration, and 
we cannot wonder that they fascitiated the Greeks of the 
seventh century. That the Greeks fully adopted this kind 
of vase-painting, whencesoever it came to them originally, 
has been of late abundantly proved by the discoveries at 
Naucratis in Egypt, where an enormous quantity of pottery 
* Necropole de Camire. 

Chap. V.] Recent Discoveries and the Homeric Poems. 1 29 

of the class has been discovered, dating doubtless from 
near the time of the foundation of Naucratis in the seventh 
century B.C. But Greek art soon became a thing too much 
alive to be confined in the limits of any decoration, how- 
ever admirable. A demand arose for something contain- 
ing more of human interest. And the Greek potters met 
the demand, not by copying on their vases some of the 
more elaborate scenes of cult or of court life, such as they 
must have seen on the eclectic metal vessels of Phoenicia, 
but by introducing something of their own, some scene out 
of Greek legend or mythology. Thus we see illustrations 
of Greek myths gradually make their way on the decorative 
Oriental pottery, and by degrees claim the first place, 
driving into a corner the foreign elements, until the friezes 
of animals which used to cover the whole surface of the 
vases remain only in a narrow band above and below the 
mythological scene, which has now occupied the post of 
honour which it is never again to lose until Greek art is 
in its dotage. A good illustration alike of the Oriental 
setting of early Greek art and its aggressive attempt at 
originality will be found in that remarkable archaic bronze 
plate found at Olympia, where a combat between Herakles 
and a Centaur appears as a proof of Hellenic workmanship 
among animals and monsters of purely Asiatic character. 
; Having thus brought down the archaeological record of 
Greece to the seventh century, after which time we emerge 
into the full light of history, let us retrace our steps. Let 
us take up the problem at the other end ; and briefly 
consider what account is given in the Homeric poems 
themselves of the state of contemporary art ; and of those 
details of vessels, armour, and the like, of which we find in 
works of art a full and satisfactory representation. Such a 
discussion will, we believe, firmly establish the conclusion 
that the Homeric poems were written at a time of 
decadence of art, when the light which shines so clearly 


130 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. v. 

at Mycenae had faded away, but yet the new revival had 
not made its start from the East, or at most had but 
recently started on its career of conquest. 

When the art of the Homeric age is spoken of, one's 
mind naturally turns to the description of the shield of 
Achilles in the eighteenth book of the Iliad. And as this 
is the only careful description of a work of art in the 
Homeric poems, it is the touchstone by which will be 
tried all theories which attempt to determine the condition 
of the modelling arts in the Homeric age. Assuredly 
we have no intention of writing an account of all the 
views which have been set forth by Alexandrian and by 
modern writers on this fruitful subject, v/hich has ranged 
the greatest names in opposite camps. Nor would the 
present writer venture to attack a subject already handled 
by Welcker, Brunn, and a host of able writers, but for the 
fact that the last few years have greatly increased the 
possibilities of forming a sound judgment. 

Two questions require consideration — (i) How far is the 
Homeric description suggested by, or how far does it 
correspond with, works of art familiar to the poet ? (2) 
Supposing such correspondences to exist, to what class of 
works of art do they point as contemporary [with the 
Homeric poems ? We have placed these questions in their 
logical [order ; but this we shall have to reverse in any 
practical discussion of the matter, because until we have 
determined the kind of art with which Homer was familiar 
we cannot in fairness attempt to decide how far he was 
influenced by it. 

There are three theories which may be held, and have 
been held, as to the art contemporary with the Homeric 
poems. The first, and perhaps the most natural, is that it 
was the archaic Greek art which is represented to us by 
Pausanias' description of the chest of Cypselus, as well as 
by a multitude of early painted vases which have come 

Chap. V.] Recent Discoveries and the Homeric Poems. 131 

down to us, among which the so-called Frangois vase* is 
conspicuous for its early age and its great variety of sub- 
jects. This, we say, is the most natural view, but a little 
consideration will show us that it is untenable. It is, in 
fact, now generally abandoned ; and with reason. In the 
first place, none of our vases of the so-called Corinthian, 
Rhodian, or Cyrenaean classes can be carried back to the 
age of Homer. And the chest of Cypselus, which closely 
resembles them in subjects and style, probably belongs to 
the seventh century. Secondly, if we compare the scenes 
of the Homeric shield with the scenes of the vases and the 
Cypseline chest, we shall find a strongly-marked contrast. 
All the Homeric scenes are general or ethical ; they repre- 
sent phases of life and action, a city at war, ploughing, a 
lawsuit, and the like ; while all the scenes on the vases and 
the chest are mythological, represent the doings of Perseus 
or Herakles, or other heroes, or the interferences of the 
gods in the life of the world. We have here a distinction 
clear, deep-seated, and unmistakable ; which proves, if 
anything can be proved in archaeology, that the two phases 
of art are divided by a considerable period of time, and 
belong to distinct civilisations. In the Hesiodic account of 
the shield of Herakles, or at least the part of that account 
which is not a mere copy of epic models, we do find scenes 
which correspond very nearly with those existing on early 
vases. But it is certain that the Hesiodic description is 
later by many years than the Homeric. 

Let us then dismiss this first theory and turn to the 
second, which requires more respectful consideration, as it 
has been set forth by very high authorities, Brunn for 
instance, and is still upheld by Dr. Helbig and Mr. A. S. 
Murray. This theory brings into connection the Homeric 
shield and those Phoenician bowls of silver and of bronze 
of which we have above spoken, and considers that Homer 
* Monumenti deir Instituto, iv. pis. 54-58. 
' K 2 

132 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. v. 

borrowed his scenes from them, and through them from 
the wall-paintings and reliefs of Egypt and Assyria. Mr. 
Murray, in his History of Greek Sadpture, has gone so far 
as to print a design of the shield of Achilles of which 
nearly all the scenes are taken from these sources. He 
also points out, what is much to the purpose, that recently 
in Crete there have been discovered shields, the .designs 
of which may be placed in line with those of the bowls, and 
which may have been imported from Phoenicia or Cyprus.* 
They are however very fragmentary. Undoubtedly there 
would be much to be said for this view if it could be 
shown, or even rendered probable, that Phoenician wares of 
the more developed and syncretic designs were exported 
to the shores of the Mediterranean as early as the ninth 
century B.C. But this is not merely unlikely but almost 
impossible. We have already shown that the Phoenician 
bowls of even the eighth century exhibit a style almost 
purely Egyptian ; and that the Assyrian designs, which 
have more of the Homeric character than the Egyptian, do 
not appear until a later age. In fact, the bowls which by 
variety and richness of design most tempt a comparison 
with the Homeric description are comparatively late,t and 
in all probability not so early as many extant works ' of 
archaic Greek art. It seems therefore an anachronism to 
suppose that Homer can have seen such. Other considera- 
tions confirm the argument from date. One of the most 
striking and remarkable things about the Homeric de- 
scription is the way in which the inlaying of various metals 
on the shield is described ; we have a field of gold, vines 
with silver props, a fence of tin, oxen of gold and tin, and 

* Museo Italiano,\o\.\\. ''Id). ^ L ,*l C>' . t- 
t That found in the Regulini-Galassi tomb was in company with an 
Etruscan inscription, and the Etruscan alphabet was of late intro- 
duction. That found at Palestrina was among objects not earlier than 
those in the Regulini-Galassi tomb. Dr. Helbig himself declares that 
the Regulini-Galassi tomb belongs to the sixth century B.C. 

Chap. VJ Recent Discoveries and the Homeric Poems. 133 

the like. If there be one point on which Homer is de- 
scribing art which he has seen, it is this. But the silver-gilt 
and the bronze bowls of Phoenicia are chased and repouss6, 
but not inlaid with various metals. Moreover, the chief 
theme of Egyptian art as rendered on the bowls is the 
worship of the gods, the chief themes of Assyrian art as 
rendered on the bowls are the exploits of kings and the 
destruction of evil spirits in the form of monsters. But in 
the Homeric description the cultus of the gods is notably 
absent ; and great as was the pre-eminence of the kings in 
Homer's days, it is not their deeds which appear on the 
shield but the ordinary life of mankind, subject-matter, one 
might have thought, rather adapted for a Hesiodic than a 
Homeric description. 

The third theory as to Homeric art, and on the whole 
the most reasonable, is the view which sees the nearest 
analogy to the Homeric description in some of the works 
of art discovered at Mycenae, such as the sword-blades 
already mentioned. The subjects on these blades possess in 
a remarkable degree the most distinct features of the scenes 
of the shield. They are ethical or general, represent scenes, 
and not the exploits of personages. Nor is this all. The 
lion-hunt of the most remarkable blade (p. 65) is not merely 
a Homeric subject, but it is treated in a really epic way. 
One lion flies headlong, one flies but turns to look on his 
pursuers, a third turns fiercely to meet them ; of the attack- 
ing party one has fallen ; the others are varied in arms and 
attitude. In spite of the rough style of this work of art, 
there is more of vigour and freshness, more of pathos, more 
in fact of the Homeric spirit in it than in the productions 
of Egyptian and Assyrian artists. They are but chronicles : 
it is a poem. The fragment also on which the siege is 
represented (p. 66) has something of epic variety and 
force, though the naked slingers and archers are not much 
like the warriors of Agamemnon. If from treatment 

1 34 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. v. 

we turn to technique, the correspondence is perhaps even 
more striking. Some of the more beautiful of the sword- 
blades, including that which bears the lion-hunt, are thus 
decorated :* — the blade itself consists of bronze, but on 
each side a second plate of bronze is fastened, overlaid 
with a metallic enamel of dark hue, which served for the 
insertion of figures cut in thin gold leaf These latter 
depend for their effect partly on the graving-tool, but 
especially on the varied hues of gold, which varies in colour 
from the dark red of pure gold to the shimmer of silver. 
>' It seems beyond doubt," writes Koehler, " that the varied 
toning of the gold was produced by methods of art." On 
these blades we find fishes of dark gold swimming in a 
stream of pale gold, drops of blood are represented by 
inserted spots of red gold ; in some cases silver is used. 
What could be nearer to Homer's golden vines with silver 
props, or his oxen of gold and tin ? 

It has also been well pointed out by Hirschfeld and 
Helbigt that coincidences in subject though not in execu- 
tion may be observed between Homeric works of art and 
those Dipylon vases which were probably contemporary 
with the Homeric poems, though representing a different 
wave of art from that of the old Achaean monarchies. On 
these vases, " in accordance with Homeric custom, men in 
ordinary life wear the sword ; their equipment comprises 
those greaves which gave to the Achaeans the epithet 
lvKV'r]\iiZe<i" As was the case with Patroclus' corpse, here 
also a corpse laid out is covered from head to foot with 
a cloth. On the Dipylon vases we find chariot-races in 
honour of the dead, like those of the Iliad, and tripods set 
forth as the prizes. A dance of youths and maidens recalls 
a scene of the shield of Achilles. These resemblances, 
though not very striking, are worthy of notice. But it is 

* U. Koehler in Aihen. Mittheilungen, vii. 244. 
t Das Homerische Epos, p. 76. 

Chap. V.] Recent Discoveries and the Homeric Poems. 135 

also to be observed that the ships depicted on the Dipylon 
vases have beaks or rams in front of them, of which no 
trace is to be found in the Homeric poems ; and in this 
respect at least they represent a somewhat later age. 

Thus it seems that the authors of the Iliad and Odyssey 
gained their notion of works of art less from foreign than 
from Hellenic productions. The art of the great Achaean 
age they probably knew by tradition and by survival ; 
while perhaps the art of their contemporaries was rather 
like that of the Dipylon vases ; or at all events a degraded 
descendant of the Achaean. ^ 

We proceed to attack our second question — How far is 
Homer in his description of the shield thinking of works 
of art, and how far is he giving loose rein to his poetic 
imagination ? The problem has become far simpler if we 
are satisfied that Homer was not thinking of Phoenician 
bowls with their elaborate scenes, nor of Cyprian shields, 
but of arms with inlaid patterns, of shields which he had 
seen. The general plan of Homer's shield is clear ; as to 
that, all scholars are agreed. On the boss in the midst 
were represented earth, sea, and sky, sun, moon, and the 
constellations of heaven, while round the edge ran ocean, 
inclosing the whole design. Between the two extremes, 
arranged in concentric bands, were representations of the 
principal phases of human life : a city at peace and a city 
at war, tilling and vintage, a lion-hunt and a peaceful 
pasture, a dance of youths and maidens. The general 
arrangement is like that which we find on early Greek and 
Etruscan shields, which are also thus planned in concentric 
rings. The group of sun, moon, and sky in abbreviated 
form appears at the top of one of the very remarkable gold 
signets found at Mycenae,* and we may easily suppose a 
wave pattern which might well represent the ocean, to run 
round the edge of any circular object of metal. But when 
* Schliemann, Mycenae, p. 254, No. 530. 

136 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. v. 

we come to the numerous and complicated scenes which fill 
the surface of the imaginary shield, it must at once be 
admitted that their order and their details are developed 
without the least regard to any existing or possible work of 
art, from the poetical rather than the plastic point of view. 
It is true that there runs through the whole description a 
law of measure and balance, scene being matched with 
scene, and circumstance contrasted with circumstance. 
But this is the result, not of any dependence on a work of 
art actual or imagined, but of the love of balance and 
architectonic form which belongs to all the works of the 
Hellenic race, to poetry no less than to sculpture, which 
marks the plays of a Sophocles as strongly as the pedi- 
ments of a Pheidias. It is, moreover, quite remarkable 
how simple are the designs of all the early Greek shields 
which are depicted on vases, or have come down to us in 
the pages of Pausanias. Usually they are decorated with 
one, or at most with two, figures. The most complicated 
shield known, that of Athena Parthenos at Athens, was 
adorned but with a single group of combatants. Etruscan 
shields, made under Phoenician influence, are of more 
complex design, but their pattern at most comprises a few 
monotonous rows of animals. 

Indeed no one could read with critical mind the 
Homeric description without observing that of the scenes 
described none is stationary ; all are full of successive , 
events. The disputants turn first to the people and 
then to the elders ; the ploughmen turn up one furrow 
and down another ; the city at war passes through the 
successive events of half a day. All this is quite 
natural to a poet describing the phases of human life, 
but not natural to a poet who is trying to embody 
to^ his imagination a real work of art. Homer has 
beyond almost all poets the power of making the 
things he speaks of real and concrete ; if he had been 

Chap, v.] Recent Discoveries and the Homeric Poems. 137 

intending to describe a real shield, he would have brought 
it before our minds as he brings before our minds the 
quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles, or the warriors 
whom Helen describes from the towers of Ilium. 

It may be well, however, to speak more in detail of one 
particular passage, that which describes the siege of the 
city, since as to this a particular theory has been set forth. 
It will be in the memory of most of our readers that Homer 
speaks of a series of events as happening. He describes a 
city girt by two armies which are at issue between them- 
selves, one army wishing to destroy the place wholly, the 
other to accept a ransom for it. While they deliberate the 
citizens issue forth, led by Ares and Pallas Athene, and 
form an ambush, by means of which they succeed in 
capturing the cattle of the enemy and slaying their herds- 
men. The council of the enemy breaks up, they hasten to 
the rescue of their herds, and a fierce battle is joined on 
the banks of a river. It has been maintained* that this 
description is prompted by a reminiscence of an artistic 
representation of a town with the enemy on both sides of it 
as he appears on a Phoenician cupf (p. 138) ; that Homer 
took the idea of two armies from the two attacking corps. 
This, however, seems to be fanciful. In the Homeric 
description the point is far less that the attacking armies 
are two than that they are together assembled in council ; 
and it is hard to see how an artist of the Homeric age 
could represent what Homer describes in less than three 

* Murray, Greek Sculpture, i. p. 49 ; Helbig, Homerische Epos, 

P- 305- 

t Cesnola, Cyprus, pi. xix. In the outer scene we have, in the 
midst, a city which is attacked by scaling parties from both sides, 
one party lightly armed, the other armed in Carian or Greek fashion ; 
cavalry and archers advance as supports, and labourers cut down 
trees. In the middle band we see two Assyrian figures flanking the 
sacred tree, and various Egyptian deities, Isis, Harpocrates, the frog- 
god and the scarab. Within is a line of sphinxes. 

New Chapters in Greek History. C^hap. Y. 



Chap. V,] Recent Discoveries and the Homeric Poems. 139 

scenes, of which the first would represent the deliberation, 
the second the ambush, and the third the battle, and each 
of these scenes would probably be too complicated for such 
an artist to manage intelligibly. And the argument de- 
rived from this vase loses much of its force now that 
we possess on the Mycenaean silver vessel a scene of 
siege of unquestionable pre-historic date, but in design 
very straightforward (p. 66). 

Thus it seems clear that all that Homer took 
from existing art in his description was the general 
principle of producing effects by means of inlaying of 
metal of various colours, and the custom of arranging 
the designs of shields in concentric bands ; beyond that 


he is free. And it is just thus that scholars are agreed to 
interpret other Homeric descriptions. The poet speaks of 
golden maids formed by Hephaestus, who had power of 
motion and speech and more than mortal wisdom ; but 
no one supposes that there were in those days statues of 
gold ; these beings are mere fantastic imaginations of the 
poet. In some other cases a real work of art may be the 
basis of the description, as in that remarkable description 
of the group on the brooch of Odysseus.* " On the face 
* Od. xix. 228. 

140 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. v. 

of it was a curious device, a hound in his forepaws held 
a dappled fawn and gazed on it as it writhed. And all 
men marvelled at the workmanship, how, wrought as 
they were in gold, the hound was gazing on the fawn and 
strangling it, and the fawn was writhing with his feet and 
striving to flee." Certainly in this passage the poet shows 
a marvellous power of putting life into a simple design, 
such as he may well have seen ; such for example as the 
Mycenaean gold plate * (p. 1 39) which represents a lion 
leaping on a stag. But here there is no narrative ; he 
does not say that the fawn was feeding, and the dog 
sprang upon it and tore it, but describes a single moment 
In two lines of Homer only do we find a description of 
a work of art which seems to have been made on the 
lines of Phoenician art or the Greek art which rose out 
of it. He says of the sword-belt of Herakles,t that on 
it were wrought bears and boars and lions and battles 
and slaughter : a passage which certainly does suggest a 
composition of a fighting scene between rows of stylised 
animals such as we see on Rhodian vases. But this 
passage occurs in the Odyssey, not the Iliad, and it stands 
by itself, so we need not press its evidence. 

'In some cases the resemblances between Mycenaean 
antiquities and works of art mentioned in the Homeric 
poems are closer and more detailed. An instance will be 
found in the case of the cup described in the Iliad as 
belonging to Nestor,^ "a right goodly cup, that the old 
man brought from home, embossed with studs of gold, 
and four handles there were to it, and round each, two 
golden doves were feeding, and to the cup were two feet 
below." I cite Mr. Lang's translation, but the precise 
meaning of the original has been much disputed, and we 
know that in antiquity at least one treatise was devoted 
by a learned Alexandrian to the elucidation of this cup. 
* Mycenae, p. 309. f Od. xi. 610. % II. xi. 630. 

Chap. V.] Recent Discoveries and the Homeric Poems. 141 

But the comparison of a gold vessel found at Mycenae 
has made the nature of Nestor's treasure quite clear to 
us. This vessel,* which like Nestor's was fastened together 
with golden nails, has two handles, and on each handle a 
bird sitting, while two curious supports run up from the 
base to the rim. We at once conjecture that in Nestor's 


cup the doves were not feeding round the handles, but 
standing one on each side of each handle ; and that the 
'TTvdiieve'i of Homer were not feet, but supports joining the 
rim to the foot. 

In spite however of the general likeness between the 
art of Mycenae and that of the Iliad, the latter seems 
in a more exhausted and depressed condition. One can 
scarcely call the shield of Achilles a work of decaying 
art : but of course that is a poet's work of art, the like of 
which never really existed. Besides the shield, works of 
art are rarely described, and when they are it is with an 
* Mycenae, p. 237. 

142 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. v. 

exaggerated astonishment, which shews such things not 
to be common in Homeric days. Anything artistically 
good is either imported from Sidon, or else made by 
Hephaestus : that such things could be made by ordinary 
workmen seems scarcely to have entered into the Homeric 
mind. Would anyone who was accustomed to see 
brooches well engraved write in regard to the device of a 
brooch, " And all men marvelled at the workmanship, how, 
wrought as they were in gold, the hound was gazing on 
the fawn and strangling it, and the fawn was writhing with 
his feet and striving to flee." Such a description even 
applied to a painting by Landseer would sound hyperbolic. 
Such passages seem clearly to shew that in Homeric times 
works of art were rare, and in most cases either imported 
from abroad or else handed down as heirlooms from past 
generations. But at Mycenae we have to do with an art, 
not indeed highly advanced, but in the full swing of life 
and motion, and quite as likely to send out its products to 
foreign shores as to feel the need of bringing in from 
elsewhere cunningly wrought works of art. 

Analogy does certainly render it probable that the 
author of the Iliad does in art, as in other respects, work 
rather in the light of the past than in that of the present. 
It has been well pointed out that we find in the 
trace of many customs which must almost certainly have 
existed among the author's Greek contemporaries. The 
Homeric Achaeans are unacquainted with writing, they 
do not use the horse for riding on, they do not eat boiled 
meat.* It is unlikely that any of these customs were 
foreign to the Greeks of the ninth and eighth centuries; 
but they were kept out of their epic poems on the same 
principle on which a writer of pastoral idylls in our day 
would avoid the mention of the telegraph or telephone. 

* Ephemeris Arch. 1891, p. 40 ; Wilamowitz, Homerische Unter- 
suchungen, p. 292. h'f-j '4.. u 

Chap. V.] Recent Discoveries and the Homeric Poems. 143 

Perhaps the clearest evidence of changing custom which 
is furnished by the Homeric poems is to be found in the 
descriptions of arms and armour, on which Mr. Leaf has 
written an excellent paper.* He shews that the Homeric 
passages which speak of the shields of Achaean and 
Trojan warriors exhibit marked inconsistency. The poet 
evidently thinks of shields as round, and often speaks of 
them as round ; but in other places he clearly implies 
that they were of that oblong scutum-like form which is 
often depicted in the island gems and the monuments of 
Mycenae. Thus the shield of Ajax is compared to a 
tower, which comparison would be pointless unless it were 
of oblong form. Hector's shield as he walks touches at 
once neck and ankle ; this would be possible if the 
shield were oblong, but practically impossible if it were 
round, a round shield five feet in diameter being a mon- 
strosity. • So, too. Homer constantly speaks of the TeKa^mv 
or strap by which the shield was suspended from the neck 
of his heroes. On Egyptian monuments and those of 
Mycenae we frequently see the oblong scutum thus sus- 
pended, but the round shield is alike on Egyptian and 
Greek monuments managed by means of two handles, 
and requires no shoulder-belt. We are almost certainly 
justified in supposing that when the Iliad was written 
the oblong shield had but recently !given way in use to 
that of circular form, whence some confusion arose, and 
traditional phrases properly applicable only to oblong 
shields were applied to round bucklers. 

The body- armour of the Homeric heroes consisted, as 
Mr. Leaf and Dr. Helbig have well shewn, of breastplate 
and backplate, united to form a cuirass, girt round the 
body by a ^cbcttt?/} or belt, below the bottom of which the 
body was protected by a metal girdle called a filrpT]. This 
is an arrangement which does not occur in the representa- 
* Journal of Hellenic Studies, iv. p. 283. 

144 iV^zw Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. v. 

tions on swords and signets at Mycenae. There the 
warriors, who do not usually even wear helmets, do not 
appear to be clad in body-armour at all. It is also an 
arrangement unknown to Greek art after the sixth century. 
Hellenic warriors, from the stele of Aristion onwards, are 
represented indeed as wearing a cuirass, but the lower 
part of their bodies is not protected by a /ttTjOi;, but by a 
sort of leathern apron attached to the lower end of the 
cuirass. But on very early Greek vases, such as those 
from Melos,* and even on black-figured vases, we find an 
arrangement of armour which seems to correspond to the 
Homeric description. The cuirass is represented as ending 
below not in an apron, but in a sharp ridge, while below it 
the hips are girded with a close-fitting girdle which may 
well be intended to represent the fiiTpr]. In this case 
also we see a marked progress between the period repre- 
sented by the Mycenaean remains and the Homeric age. 
That this progress should have taken place notably in 
warlike panoply is natural enough. The defeats which 
they had suffered from the Dorians must have taught the 
Achaeans by sad experience the insufficiency of their 
defensive armour, and made them consider seriously how 
a remedy could be found. 

One curious Mycenaean intaglio in goldf seems to 

represent a lightly equipped Achaean 

of the early period armed only with 

a sword, slaying a warrior wearing a 

helmet with conspicuous crest, who 

GOLD ORNAMENT, tries to shelter himself behind an oval 

shield. Is this latter a Dorian, or possibly a Carian 

soldier ? 

In speaking of shields, we clearly see how the Homeric 
poet mixes the customs of his own age with what is handed 
down by tradition as to the equipment of earlier and 
* Conze, Melische Thongefdsse. f Mycenae, p. 174. 

77t' 7,3.- 

Chap. V.] Recent Discoveries and the Homeric Poems. 145 

more splendid times, sometimes mingling the inconsis- 
tent elements. And this analogy will greatly help us in 
approaching the most difficult question presented to us by 
the recent excavations in the Argolid, the relations of the 
Achaean palace to that of the Homeric poems, we should 
rather say to that of the Odyssey, since in the Iliad we 
have no description of a palace sufficiently detailed and 
exact to help us. 

On the one hand we have the plans of the great houses 
at Tiryns and Mycenae, of which I have already spoken, 
with their courts and their halls, and with the apartments 
of men and women separate, though placed side by side. 
And facts seem clearly to prove that these houses were 
the residences of Achaean chiefs in the 12th and nth 
centuries before our aera. On the other hand in the 
Odyssey it is clearly implied, as almost all commentators 
are agreed, that men's and women's chambers were not 
thus separated, but were adjacent, with doors between, so 
that intercourse was easy and continual. Professor Jebb 
in a very clear and able paper * maintains that in the 
palace of Odysseus : (i) The women's part of the house 
was immediately behind the men's hall, directly com- 
municating with it by a door. (2) There was a second 
way of going from the men's hall to the back part of the 
house, by a passage outside of the hall. And this is in 
fact the ordinary view which had been previously accepted 
by the orthodox Homeric commentators : f Mr. Hayman 
and Mr. Lang however are disposed to regard the women's 
quarters as not even separate ; and there are some passages 
in the Odyssey which seem to support this view. But in 
any case it is necessary to allow Prof. Jebb's contention 

* Journal of Hellenic Studies, v\\. lit,. 
\ t Winckler, Wohnhmiser der Hellenen, Protodikos, De aedibus 
.Homericis &c. This view I have also maintained in the Journal 
'of H. S., iii. 264. 

'■:. ' L 

146 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. v. 

that the Odyssey becomes unintelligible if we suppose 
the scene of the slaying of the suitors to have taken 
place in a palace like that of Tiryns, with men's and 
women's apartments separated by a space one from the 

But firstly, it appears that in the Achaean age there 
was a considerable difference in degree of civilisation 
between eastern and western Greece. The rulers of the 
poor and hardy races of Epirus, Acarnania and the Western 
Isles would scarcely be likely to reach such a degree of 
civilisation as the wealthy rulers of the ArgoHd. Besides, 
if we must suppose, as is indeed certain, that the Odyssey 
was put together, whether in Europe or in Asia, at a period 
subsequent to the Dorian invasion, how unlikely it is that 
we should find in it any exact remembrance of the pre- 
Dorian palace. A race which degenerated in art, changed 
the character of its armour, and passed from riches to 
poverty, would not be likely to preserve the custom of 
building such palaces as the Achaean kings possessed in 
Greece. The palace of Alcinous was perhaps a remini- 
scence, coloured by fancy and time, of the great houses of 
early Greece ; but the palace of Odysseus is but a farm- 
house, where swine wallow in the court and the maids are 
busy with their mills. We can scarcely be surprised that 
the poet of the Odyssey, needing a clear and actual scene 
for the slaying of the suitors, went rather by houses which 
he saw around him than by those of which tradition told. 

Unfortunately our information as to the disposition of 
parts in the Greek house at various periods is very frag- 
mentary. We can only discern that it varied greatly, and 
depended largely upon degrees of wealth and luxury. In 
the farm-houses of early type described by Galen, the wife 
sits by the hearth in the main apartment. In the Athenian 
house described by Lysias in his speech de caede Erastos- 
thenis, husband and wife occupy two chambers, one over 

Chap. V.] Recent Discoveries and tJie Homeric Poems. 147 

the other, the upper being approached by a ladder. But 
the ordinary custom in wealthy houses of the later age 
was to assign to the men and the women of a family 
separate courts with a passage between, around which 
courts were grouped the living-rooms and the bed-rooms 
of the family. 

The house of Odysseus does not coincide entirely with 
any of these arrangements. Its general plan agrees nearly 
with that of the wealthy historic house. Yet there are a 
number of details in which the agreement with the Tiryn- 
thian palace is singularly close : some of these agreements 
we will briefly indicate. 

(i.) At Tiryns, before the door of the main hall, lies a 
court surrounded by arcades and fenced with walls, the 
entrance being through the folding doors of a propylaeum. 
With this we may compare Od. 17, 264. "Eumaeus, 
verily this is the fair house of Odysseus, and right easily 
might it be known even if seen among many : there is 
building upon building ; and the court of the house is 
cunningly wrought with wall and frieze, and well fenced 
are the folding doors ; a man could not easily storm it." 
Again in Od. 16, 343, " The wooers came forth from the 
hall, past the great wall of the court, and there before the 
gates they sat them down." 

(2.) At Tiryns there is a porch in front of the hall, which 
well corresponds to the echoing porch of the Odyssey. 

(3.) In the court at Tiryns was an altar with a trench 
evidently intended for sacrifices : in the house of Odysseus 
the altar of Zeus Herceius is situate in the court before 
the hall. 

(4.) At Tiryns the hearth stands in the middle of the 
hall, the smoke rising through a hole in the roof: in the 
Odyssey the fire in the hall is frequently mentioned, it stood 
in the midst, and was used for cooking food. 

(5.) At Tiryns a passage led from the hall to a bath-room 

L 2 

148 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. v. 

carefully arranged : in the Odyssey (17, 85) the suitors, 
" when they came to the fair-lying palace, laid aside their 
cloaks on the couches and chairs, and went to the well- 
polished baths and bathed them." 

(6.) At Tiryns the door-sills were in some cases made of 
stone, in other cases of wood : this is altogether in harmony 
with the Homeric custom. 

(7.) The glass and alabaster frieze found at Tiryns is 
not only in accordance with Homeric custom, but it 
explains as has above been pointed out, the Homeric 
phrase 6pi,<yKo<; Kvdvoio, which had before been imperfectly 

(8.) In the men's hall at Tiryns the hearth stands in 
the midst of four pillars which supported, as is supposed, 
a raised square of roof above. In the Odyssey, when 
Nausicaa is directing Odysseus to the palace of her father 
(vi. 304), she bids him quickly to pass through the hall 
to where her mother " sits by the hearth in the light of 
the fire " busy with the loom, and " resting against a 
pillar." The coincidence here is very remarkable : in the 
conjectural restorations of the Homeric palace the hearth 
had been placed at a considerable distance from the 

These coincidences, besides others of a more doubtful 
character, or requiring a long discussion to prove, are 
sufficient to show that the poet of the Odyssey knew from 
tradition, if not from personal observation, many of the 
features of the Greek prehistoric house, such as those of 
Tiryns and Mycenae. But he does not seem to be" 
sufficiently familiar with such houses to escape confusion 
in some parts of his narrative. In the stirring episode of 
the slaying of the suitors especially he sometimes nods: 
we find it hard, or even impossible, to determine at which 
end of the hall Odysseus stood when he shot them down, 
or how Melanthius contrived to fetch the arms. No one 

Chap. V.] Recent Discoveries and the Homeric Poems. 149 

can make a vivid and consistent picture of an event of 
which the scene is not really familiar to him ; least of all 
a poet like the author of the Odyssey who has to work up 
given material into a new whole. 

Some writers have been led by the marked separation of 
men's and women's apartments at Tiryns to the view that 
the palace there must have been built for an Oriental 
rather than a Greek ruler. But there is here some con- 
fusion of thought. No Oriental king arranges his harem, 
so that he has to leave his palace and wander a long 
distance in order to reach it. It stands to reason that 
there must have been some means of communication 
between men's and women's rooms, and it is most reason- 
able to suppose that this would have had the form of a 
side door, the Homeric opc7o6vpr). Mr. Middleton in his 
conjectural restoration * inserts such a door of communi- 
cation : and it is curious that at the corresponding spot in 
the supposed men's hall at Hissarlik f the foundation is 
broadened for some uncertain purpose. If however there 
were such a door, the means of communication between 
men and women would be not unlike those supposed by 
most commentators on the Odyssey. The only difference 
will be that at Tiryns the communication takes place 
by a side-door, and in the Odyssey by a back-door. This 
difference is important as regards architectural plan and 
construction, but it does not imply much difference of 
civilisation or of race. 

There can be little doubt that the wandering and 
troubled life of the Achaeans after the Dorian invasion 
would tend to diminish the seclusion of women, with the 
other stately customs of the ancient princely houses. It 

* Journ. Hell. Stud. viii. 164. 

t See above, p. 53. In Dr. Dorpfeld's plan in Troja this broaden- 
ing is marked as belonging to the work of the second period of the 
burnt city ; but in the most recent plan it is marked as belonging to the 
first period of the city. 

1 50 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. v. 

would be more usual in Homeric than in Tirynthian days 
to see the lady of the house standing among men in the 
hall, or seated by the hearth. Of such gradual change of 
manners we do see traces in the Odyssey, but we see nothing 
to prove that the palaces of Tiryns and Mycenae lie out- 
side the lines of Hellenic history. Even if, as is probable 
enough, they were originally built for princes of foreign 
extraction, of Lycian or Phrygian blood, these would not 
be very different from native Greeks, so far as we can 
judge, either in language or customs. For of whatever 
race the mass of the people in Asia Minor may have been, 
it is more than probable that the upper class was a tribe of 
pure Aryan blood, and closely akin to the Greeks in arts 
and religion, in arms and customs.* 

We thus reach in conclusion the point whence we 
made our start. After spending time over prehistoric Greek 
archaeology and the Homeric data, it always seems to 
me clear that the Iliad and Odyssey belong essentially to a 
time when the wealthy and powerful Achaean kingdoms of 
Greece had passed away, and that the civilisation which 
colours those poems belonged to the past, a past fresh in 
tradition' and looked back to as a period of prosperity and 
happiness. Certainly archaeology shows that there was 
such a time, quite apart from the testimony of history. 
To the rich treasures of Mycenae and Spata and Bapheion 
there succeeds an age in which the tombs of Greece 
contain but poor and scanty spoil, spoil which seems to 
speak alike of poverty and of artistic decline. That, so 
far as I can judge, should be the age when the Iliad 
received its present character. 

* In this connection it is worthy of notice that Mr. Ramsay thinks 
he can trace, in the ground plan of an early house which he has dis- 
covered in Phrygia, traces of separate living apartments devoted to 
women. See Journ. Hell. Stud. x. 176. This evidence, however, must 
scarcely be relied on, as the date of the dwelling is very doubtful, and 
it appears to have been lived in by Turks. 

Chap. V.] Recent Discoveries and the Homeric Poems. 151 

The Mycenaean age was in a literal sense the age of 
gold. Gold was used for cups and for seals, for masks for 
the dead and breastplates ; and the very garments in 
which the dead were swathed were covered with plates of 
gold. Iron was all but unknown, and was probably 
regarded as more valuable than gold itself. Homer also is 
fond of speaking of gold, but he does not talk of garments 
of gold, save in the case of the gods, and in his time the 
iron age had in the literal sense begun ; iron was used for 
swords,* axes and ploughshares. The iron Dorians had 
got the better of the golden Achaeans, and Greece had 
passed out of the period of royalty and legend into the 
period of chieftaincy and actuality. Greek nationality had 
begun to be formed, and the seeds of the future greatness 
of the race were being sown in poverty and warfare. 
Somewhat later, in the middle of the sixth century, the 
iron men of Sparta, wishing for gold to plate the face of a 
statue of Apollo, knew not where to seek it, save at the 
hands of Croesus in that very region whence Pelops is 
said to have come. 

To Dr. Schliemann beyond all others we owe it that 
we have succeeded in passing the abyss which the Greeks 
themselves did not succeed in passing, the gap which 
divides the Hellas of history from heroic Greece. We 
have discovered an archaeological recoi'd of the rise of the 
Hellenic nation, a record which will probably become every 
year more full and more trustworthy. We may hope, at 
least in part, to abandon the purely sceptical tone in which 
Grote speaks of the ages which preceded the first 
Olympiad, and by degrees to trace the outlines of the 
material condition*' the manners and the ethnic connections 
of the peoples of prehistoric Hellas. The dream that 
Homer narrates actual events may never be realized, and 

* It has, however, been doubted whether the passages which speak 
of iron swords are not interpolations. 

152 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. v. 

we may never be able to test the value of the genealogical 
lists which are almost all that Greek historians and inscrip- 
tions preserve to us in the way of record of their own 
heroic days. But, nevertheless, we shall find that those 
days are not buried in hopeless oblivion, and that there is 
truth of a certain kind in Schliemann's childish belief that 
the walls of Ilium have not passed into nothingness. 

( IS3 ) 



The traveller who approaches Cyprus from the south-east, 
and nears the port of Larnaca, can scarcely fail to be un- 
favourably impressed by the bare and forlorn appearance 
of a country almost entirely denuded of trees and brush- 
wood, and in the summer months without vegetation. 
Very different was probably the aspect which even this 
least fertile side of the island presented three thousand 
years ago to the Phoenician mariner starting on his 
westward explorations. In those days vast forests and 
thick underwood stretched down from the mountains to 
the shore, offering the visitor the prospect of an inex- 
haustible supply of the materials for ship building. 
Very probably the need for wood and tar first attracted 
the Sidonian sailors to the shores of Cyprus. If so, a 
stronger attraction soon induced them to remain. In the 
mountains of the island they found an endless supply of 
that copper which, until the difficulties attending the 
working of iron were overcome, was the chief of all the 
means by which man established his dominion over the 
earth, the beasts of the world, and his fellow-man. When, 
further, we consider the position of Cyprus, lying right 
over against the Syrian coast, we cannot doubt the truth of 
the tradition that some of the earliest Phoenician colonies 
were established in the island. Timidly, as their custom 
was, the new-comers took their post beneath the long 

1 54 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vi. 

range of mountains which cuts off the southern coast from 
the broad plain which forms the middle portion of the 
land, and built their citadels on little hills, easy to be 
fortified, overhanging sheltered roadsteads, and beaches 
where their galleys could lie safely. So arose Amathus, 
Paphos, and the mightier Citium, which became the 
Phoenician capital, and even gave its name to the whole 

At this time no doubt the island was already peopled by 
a race of Anatolian stock. The religious practices of the 
Cyprian people, and, as we now know, both the style of 
their art and the alphabet they employed, point to a close 
connection between them and the primitive races of Asia 
Minor. But these races were as yet in a state of bar- 
barism, and had little culture of their own to oppose to 
that brought by the Phoenicians from the valleys of the 
Nile and the Euphrates. They were never so quick-witted 
as the lonians, and the latter applied to them in scorn the 
epithet " Cyprian oxen." Modern travellers speak still of 
the dulness and stolidity of the peasants who dwell in the 
mountainous and unfrequented parts of the island, and 
whose ancestors probably lived there three thousand years 
ago ; though Ross, on the other hand, maintains that the 
Greek peasants who dwell in secluded valleys in Rhodes 
are equally stolid, and ascribes their dulness rather to the 
uneventful and monotonous character of their lives, than to 
an inherent tendency. 

To the primitive Cyprians the Phoenicians brought not 
only the rudiments of art, trade, and civilisation, but also 
a religion. It is quite likely that they found already 
established at Paphos the cultus of a great nature goddess. 
In that case they overlaid that cultus with their' own 
worship of the moon-goddess, the queen of heaven, 
Ashtoreth or Astarte, the national deity of Ascalon and 
Sidon. That a people of navigators, in the infancy of 

Chap. VI.] Ancient Cyprus. 155 

navigation, should worship the moon and the stars is so 
natural as to require no explanation. Astarte guided the 
Sidonians on all their maritime expeditions, saved them 
from shipwreck in many a storm, and measured the time of 
their return ; and their gratitude made her supreme in all 
matters of navigation and commerce, their directress in 
war, and the wealthy recipient of a large share of the rich 
spoils which they reaped by force or by commerce in the 
far west. But the cultus of Astarte soon changed its form 
in Cyprus when it came into contact with native customs 
and beliefs. 

Of the cultus of the goddess called by the Greeks 
Aphrodite at Paphos we know a little from later accounts, 
but only a little. No subject could possibly be more 
obscure than the origin of the elements of that worship. 
We may be sure that it was at least partly Phoenician, but 
of Phoenician belief we know next to nothing. Movers 
asserts that the worship of the Sidonian goddess was 
pure from lascivious rites. If so the grosser elements in 
the later worship of Aphrodite must have been derived 
either from a Syrian or a Phrygian source. The Syrians 
as well as the people of Asia Minor worshipped with 
orgiastic rites a deity of the feminine gender, who re- 
presented at once the moon and that warm moisture of 
which the moon was the symbol, and which is the great 
fosterer of life and growth in the world. With this female 
deity was associated an effeminate male divinity, who 
doubtless stood for the sun. On all the eastern coasts 
of the Mediterranean we find among the various peoples 
pairs of deities of this character under the most varied 
names and with great variety of legend. In Babylon they 
were called Sandan and Mylitta ; in Phrygia, Attis and 
Cybele. In Lydia the pair were Graecised into Herakles 
and Omphale, in the Troad into Anchises and Aphrodite. 
In Cyprus they sometimes went by the names of Adonis 

I $6 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. VI. 

and Aphrodite. The name of Adonis is probably Semitic, 
but as worshipped in Cyprus he was certainly a deity of 
the same class as Attis and Anchises. 

We find a further likeness to the religions of Asia Minor 
and Syria in the strongly organised college of priests, who 
were attached to the service of the deity of Paphos. 
Tradition asserted that these priests were all descended 
from Cinyras. Certainly they were a very wealthy and 
powerful corporation, with branches in all parts of the 
island wherever there was a temple of Aphrodite, and great 
wealth and political power. They ruled at old Paphos 
almost as kings. Similar to the guild of the Cinyradae 
were the colleges of priests of Cybele, and the religious 
corporations of cities which, like Ephesus, took the tone 
of their worship from Asia Minor. It is also worthy of 
observation that in the Paphian temple the goddess was 
represented by no image, but by a conical stone, just as 
the Syrian goddess was represented at Hierapolis, Cybele 
at Pessinus, and the Asiatic Artemis at Perga. 

Herodotus tells us of the abominations practised in the 
temple of Mylitta at Babylon, in words which might tempt ^ 
the reader to suppose that he is exaggerating, or at least 
that the abominable sensual excesses of which he speaks^! 
could have no connection with any form of religion. Un- 
fortunately religious excitement, when perverted, is but too 
apt to lead to sensuality, as is proved by the history of 
the early Christian sects, and too surely even in our own 
day by the rise of strange communistic societies on a pro- 
fessedly religious basis in America and Russia. In Asia 
Minor the worship of deities of the Mylitta class was 
accompanied by sensual indulgence and degrading self- 
mutilations, a canker which spread at a later time deep 
into the decaying frame of the Roman Empire. At 
Cyprus the nature of the climate, which has enervated 
successively Greek colonists, Prankish knights, Venetian 

Chap. VI.] Ancient Cyprus. 157 

nobles, and Turkish settlers, and the fatal facility of living, 
both combined with the vague mystical traditions of the 
Cyprian race to turn the worship of Aphrodite into a vast 
orgy, and to make the very name of Cyprus stand 
through the civilised world for a synonym of luxury and 

In the earliest form known to us of the primitive Greek 
religion, that kept up by tradition at Dodona, there is 
already an Aphrodite, who is the child of Zeus and Dione, 
and is associated with the dove, the great emblem in all 
times of Aphrodite-worship. An Aphrodite under other 
names is also found in the Pelasgic cultus, which rendered 
Lemnos and Imbros celebrated. But after the Paphian 
goddess had been identified thoroughly with the Greek 
Aphrodite, and was seldom spoken of by any other name, 
her worship still retained its repulsive character. Xeno- 
phon, however, in the Symposium, carefully distinguishes 
two forms of Aphrodite. Of these the first is Urania, 
whose symbol was the planet Venus, who was regarded as 
a virgin, and whose rites were free from impurity. Of her 
Pheidias made a statue which stood upon a tortoise, and 
the animal sacred to her was the gentle and loving dove. 
The other form was Aphrodite Pandemos, fitly symbolised 
by a goat or a pig, the patroness of harlots and the 
encourager of all kinds of sexual immorality. It was 
rather in the latter light that the deity was regarded in 
Cyprus. The Aphrodisia, which fell at the beginning of 
April, were stained with the wildest excesses, the two 
sexes vying one with the other in the bestial rivalry. 

Of a scarcely less obscene, though of a more interesting 
character, was the annual feast of Adonis. In this the 
love of the goddess for her hero, his death, her passionate 
lament, and his resurrection from the de^d, were repre- 
sented to the eyes of worshippers by means of images, 
in a sort of Pagan miracle-play. For one day the crowds 

158 New Chapters in Greek History. [Ohap. vi. 

of women stood loudly lamenting and beating their 
breasts, or sat with tearful eyes raised to heaven ; some- 
times they even shaved their heads in token of mourning. 
On the next day, with joyful voices, they announced that 
Hades had been unable to hold back the young, the 
blooming Adonis, and Zeus had restored him to life and 
love. For eight months of the year he was to dwell with 
his loving Aphrodite ; only for four he was to remain 
with Persephone beneath the earth. The worshippers 
planted quickly growing herbs in carefully-prepared hot- 
beds : in a few days the tender stalks appeared, when they 
were thrown into the sea or into wells, to typify the sudden 
end of springing life on the earth. In all this we cannot 
fail to see allusion to the annual winter death and vernal 
resurrection of the sun ; a death and resurrection which 
by the Pagans of that time were not thought of as 
figurative, but as actual hard fact. In the same way 
Osiris died and rose again in Egypt, Attis in Phrygia, 
and Dionysus in Greece. 

Until about the ninth or eighth century before our aera, 
the Phoenicians worked their will and made their fortunes 
on all the coasts of the Mediterranean. Then the genius 
of the Greek race began to awake. The Iliad may not be 
history, but it certainly represents a time when the Greeks 
began to colonise and to conquer towards the East, and 
to spread themselves over the coast of Asia Minor. The 
tradition tells how Cinyras, the cunning King of Amathus, 
in Cyprus, promised Agamemnon fifty ships for the siege 
of Troy, and how in performance of his promise he sent 
one galley, in which were stowed forty-nine little vessels 
of terra-cotta, such, no doubt, as are still often found in 
Egyptian tombs. This Cinyras is clearly meant for the 
embodiment of the Phoenician race, and the tradition 
is a touching reminiscence of the remote time when the 
Greek was not yet a match in the arts of over-reaching 

Chap. VI.] Ancient Cyprus. 159 

for his SemitijE neighbour. But if Cinyras did not send 
ships to Agamemnon, he sent him a suit of armour, of 
which Homer gives a very glowing description, and which 
was a masterpiece of Sidonian skill. Agamemnon, if the 
tradition be trustworthy, did not regard the lesser service 
as a sufficient compensation for the loss of the greater, 
and at a later period made war on Cinyras and took his 
city. At that time many a Phoenician city was falling 
into Greek hands. History tells us little of the method 
followed by the supplanters, but no doubt the story of 
Agamemnon and Cinyras had a hundred parallels in real 
life at the time. 

Nevertheless, the settlers who came to Cyprus from 
Hellas in the Homeric age, did not primarily attack 
the Phoenician cities. Cyprus, as everyone who has 
looked at a map of the island knows, consists of a 
southern mountain-range, a northern mountain-range, and 
a broad and fertile plain between them, running across 
the country from east to west. The Phoenicians had 
already occupied the strip of shore to the south of the 
southern mountain range. The Greeks began by occupy- 
ing the strip of shore on the opposite side of the island, 
to the north of the northern mountain range. These were 
Peloponnesian settlers. But there came a bolder race of 
colonists from Attica and Salamis, led, according to 
tradition, by that Teucer to whom Horace ascribes the 
motto nil desperandum. They established a new Salamis 
boldly at the eastern end of the great plain, and after a 
time their compatriots founded Soli, to command the other 
or western end of the plain. So the lonians held the 
central plain, the Peloponnesians the northern mountains, 
and the Phoenicians the southern mountains. This plain 
was compared in all antiquity with the valley of the Nile, 
being yearly flooded by the waters of the Pediaeus, which 
left a rich deposit of mud and unexampled fertility behind. 

i6o New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. VI. 

At present it is almost a desert, but it may become once 
more what it has been. The mountains seem to belong 
to another continent. Herr von Loher * compares them to 
those of tfit Tyrol ; but the lovely glens breaking down to 
the sea can be like nothing so much as Greece. In situa- 
tion, in productions, in climate, Cyprus belongs in part to 
Europe, in part to Asia, in part to Africa, and it has con- 
stantly shared in the political vicissitudes and calamities 
of all three continents. 

The early dwelling of the newly arrived Greeks in 
Cyprus was not unmarked by the splendid bloom so usual 
in early Greek colonies. The want of fine harbours pre- 
vented Salamis and Soli from attaining a wide commerce 
and becoming the centres of a great colonial empire like 
Miletus. Nor did they suddenly spring into wealth and 
lapse into luxury like Sybaris and Tarentum. But they 
probably participated, for a time, in the spiritual and 
intellectual life of Hellas. The Cypria was considered 
one of the grandest epics of antiquity, scarcely inferior 
to the Iliad and the Odyssey. The epic was ascribed by 
some of the ancients to Euclus, a poet older than Homer, 
while others asserted that it was the work of Homer 
himself They narrated that Homer sojourned in the 
island with a daughter named Arsiphone, and giving her 
in marriage to a man named Stasinus, he gave as a dowry 
the Cypria. Hence, others again maintained that Stasinus 
was the true author of the epic, and the name Stasinus 
has quite a Cyprian sound. 

The Iliad seems to fall from the clouds ; none can 
clearly see why it begins where it does, and why it ends 
where it does. The Cypria seems to have formed a sort 
of proem or introduction to it, which begins with the 
complaint of Earth that she is oppressed with the number 
of her inhabitants, and her prayer that the crowd may be 
* Cypern, 1872. 

Chap. VI.] Ancient Cyprus. l6i 

thinned, and ends at the exact point where the Iliad takes 
up the tale. It would appear that the 'poem of Stasinus 
was more popular, had greater influence over the poets and 
painters of Greece, than the poems of Homer. At least, 
in the poems and plays which have come down to us the 
subject is oftener taken from the Cypria than the Iliad. 
In the case of Greek painted vases, whereas representa- 
tions taken from the Iliad are rare, we find very frequent 
paintings of the incidents of the Cypria, such as the 
Judgment of Paris, the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, or 
the surprise of Troilus and Polyxena by Achilles at the 
well. And in Greek legend few names are better known 
than those of Iphigeneia, Telephus, Palamedes, and Pro- 
tesilaiis, the deeds of all of whom are narrated in the 
Cypria. Indeed, the quantity of local myths the poem 
embodies is immense, thus showing the close connection 
which at the period must have existed between the Greek ■ 
colonies in Cyprus and the mainland of Hellas. 

We can scarcely be wrong in tracing, if not a Cyprian 
origin, at least Cyprian influence in the Homeric hymns 
to Aphrodite, as well as in that passage of Hesiod's TJieo- 
gony which records the birth of the goddess from the 
foam of the sea. This story, like so many of the Greek 
mythological legends, may have a physical basis. Tra- 
vellers tell that to this day the sea shore at Paphos is 
covered at certain seasons of the year, and when the wind 
is in a certain quarter, with thick masses of foam, which 
sometimes drift inland before the breeze almost on to the 
spot where stood in old days the temple of the deity. A 
German man of science, Dr. Unger, has examined that foam 
under the microscope, and found it to consist chiefly of 
the spawn of certain marine Crustacea. In this difference 
between ancient and modern ways of regarding a natural 
phenomenon there is much that is suggestive. 

The date of the Greek settlements in Cyprus cannot be 


1 62 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. VI. 

fixed with accuracy. It was earlier, however, than the 
date of the foundation of the Itahan and SiciHan colonies, 
that is, than the eighth century before our aera. It 
probably preceded the time when Assyrian influence was 
strongest on the coasts of Syria and in Asia Minor. 
Josephus states, that Shalmaneser, about the year 730, 
made war upon Phoenicia and penetrated to the shores 
of the Mediterranean. The straits endured by the metro- 
polis, Tyre, naturally brought greater liberty to the colony, 
Citium, which from this period began like Carthage to 
have a trade and a far-reaching policy of its own. At the 
end of the eighth century Sargon was supreme master of 
the island, and on a pillar preserved at Berlin we find the 
names of the kings and kingdoms which paid him tribute, 
Salamis being at this time the Greek, and Citium the 
Phoenician metropolis of the island. The tribute was 
continued to his grandson, Esarhaddon. 

As to the antiquity of the connection between Cyprus 
and Egypt there has been some controversy, some Egypt- 
ologists being disposed to regard it as very ancient. But 
Herodotus states in positive terms, that Amasis, a king 
of the new semi-Greek Egyptian kingdom of the sixth 
century B.C., was the first Egyptian king to conquer the 
island. The determination of the controversy is the less 
important, because wherever the Phoenicians had sway 
they introduced a copy of Egyptian manners in Egyp- 
tian art ; and at this distance of time it is sometimes 
difficult to distinguish true Egyptian from pseudo-Egyp- 
tian influence in art-remains. 

After the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses, the supre- 
macy of Cyprus naturally fell into the hands of the 
Persians ; and hereupon the opposition between the Greek 
and the Phoenician settlers became at once intensified. 
Like the Phoenicians of the mainland, those of Cyprus 
seem to have found their wisdom in a general support of 

Chap, yi.] Ancient Cypnis. 163 

Persian policy and the Persian arms, in which all the 
Greeks saw the most dreaded foes of their nascent civilisa- 
tion and their ancient liberties. When the Milesians and 
their allies raised the standard of revolt against Darius, 
Onesilus, brother of Gorgus, king of Salamis, finding his 
brother inclined to temporise, had himself proclaimed king 
in his place. He became master of all Cyprus, except the 
old Phoenician stronghold of Amathus, and, receiving a 
contingent of Ionic ships, hoped to hold his own against 
all Asia. But his success soon came to an end. A Per- 
sian army came from the coast of Cilicia ; and when the 
two hosts were drawn up for battle, there was, of course, 
a traitor in the Greek camp. Stasanor, king of the Greek 
colony of Curium, -went over to the enemy, the brave 
Onesilus lost his life, his army was dispersed, and Cyprus 
had again, to submit to the Persian yoke ; even to furnish 
contingents to the fleet which blockaded Miletus, and 
to that which was afterwards gloriously destroyed by 
Themistocles in the battle on the coast of Salamis. 
After the invasion of Xerxes had been rolled back, the 
y gallant Cimon with his Athenians sailed to the coasts of 
Asia Minor, restoring liberty to the Greek cities. As the 
great cities of Cyprus, Salamis and Soli, were connected 
with Athens by ties of blood, he would naturally seek 
their enfranchisement. And as a matter of fact he did 
so, and even won a splendid victory on the east coast of 
Cyprus, but was not finally successful. And now we 
reach the period most splendid in the ancient history of 
our island, when the arrival of a great man for a few years, 
if we may trust the rhetoric of Isocrates, makes Cyprus 
great. It was the period of the peace of Antalcidas, 
when Persia won back by gold and art much of the 
territory and supremacy which she had lost to the 
conquerors of Marathon and Plataea. About the year 
B.C. 410, the throne of Salamis was occupied by a Phoe- 

M 2 

164 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vi. 

nician usurper, named Abdemon. Of immemorial right 
that throne belonged to the family of Teucer, who had 
founded the city and named it after the island whence he 
sailed for Troy. Suddenly a member of that ancient 
family, by name Evagoras, appeared in Salamis with fifty 
followers, who 'reverenced him as a god,' and followed 
him implicitly in an enterprise to which a prosperous 
termination seemed impossible. But the extraordinary 
personal ascendency of the leader and the faith of the 
followers accomplished the seeming impossibility. The 
palace was stormed, the foreign guards slain, and the 
citizens, who, as Isocrates, who tells the story, says, stood 
trembling and undecided by, were informed that their 
ancient line of kings and their legitimate supremacy in the 
island were restored. Evagoras, prudent as he was valiant, 
long sought to avoid the inevitable breach with Abdemon's 
master, the great King of Persia, and even for a time 
succeeded in maintaining an alliance with him and the 
Athenian Conon against the Lacedaemonians, whom Conon 
defeated in a great battle at Cnidus. But the object of 
Evagoras' life, the complete Hellenisation of Cyprus, was 
an end the attainment of which Artaxerxes of Persia could 
not allow so long as he had a soldier or a ship left. On 
the representation of the Phoenician cities oF Amathus and 
Citium, supported, more Graeco, by the Hellenic rival of 
Salamis, Soli, Artaxerxes sent an army to put him down. 
Evagoras had long foreseen what turn events must take, 
and had strengthened his position by making great 
military preparations and by securing the alliance of the 
Athenians, and Acoris, the native aspirant to the throne 
of Egypt. Now he drew the sword and flung away the 
sheath. Aided by the Athenians under Chabrias, he made 
himself master, in a rapid campaign, of nearly all Cyprus, 
sailed across to Phoenicia, took by storm the mighty city 
of Tyre, which so long defied Alexander the Great seventy 

Chap. VI.] Ancient Cyprus. 165 

years later, and stirred up a revolt against the Persians in 
Syria and Cilicia. But Artaxerxes was now thoroughly 
aroused, and, straining every resource, landed upon Cyprus 
a force amounting, according to Diodorus, to 300,000 men, 
at a cost, says Isocrates, of 50,000 talents, and supported 
by a fleet of three hundred sail. Even against these forces, 
for a time, Evagoras held his own. He defeated Persian 
troops in several small engagements. Then he seems to 
have formed the plan of suddenly attacking and destroying 
the" hostile fleet, hoping that without its aid the army must 
starve. Falling upon a portion of that fleet, he crushed 
it at the first onset ; but the reserves came Up. The Persian 
admiral Gaos fought with desperation, and at last Evagoras 
was overpowered by superior numbers. After this mis- 
adventure Salamis was blockaded by sea and land ; but 
even after suffering the hardships of a long siege, Evagoras 
would not consent to accept a peace offered him on con- 
dition that " he would submit himself to the will and the 
command of the Persian king, as a servant to his lord ; " 
and, finally, the Persian pride was compelled to accept the 
terms he offered, and to allow him to retain Salamis on 
paying an annual tribute and submitting himself "as a 
king to a king." But, notwithstanding, Evagoras' high 
hopes were shattered, and Cyprus lost for sixteen hundred 
years the chance of playing a part in history. 

Cyprus fell easily into the hands of Alexander the 
Great, and after his death belonged to the Ptolemies of 
Egypt. The number of Ptolemaic inscriptions discovered 
in the island, shows how closely at this time it was con- 
nected with Egypt. It is probable that during the Ptole- 
maic dominion and that of the Romans, who succeeded, 
the island maintained a great pitch of wealth and material 
prosperity. The enormous quantities of silver coin issued 
by the Egyptian kings at Cyprian mints show that they 
knew well how to develop the material resources of the 

1 66 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ti. 

land. In the reign of Trajan the Jews of Cyprus revolted 
and slew, it is said, a quarter of a million of the inhabitants 
— a fact which testifies at once to the populousness of the 
island and to its wealth, for where Jews were in such 
numbers money must have been to be made. 

No doubt, during the period at the history of which we 
have thus slightly glanced, vast changes had taken place 
in the appearance of the island. Throughout antiquity 
copper was obtained there in extraordinary abundance. 
Nor was the quantity alone remarkable, but the quality 
also. It was noted for its ductility and malleability, and 
almost rivalled gold in brightness. The Roman monetarii 
cast their asses out of it ; artificers in all lands preferred it 
for objects of use and ornament ; while on the spot were 
formed from it sory, misy, chalkitis, and other mysterious 
compounds. No one who is acquainted with Cyprian 
remains can doubt that gold and silver were found in the 
island; indeed, we know from the writers that gold was 
dug there by the Venetians, and Cyprian emeralds were 
prized above all others. In ancient, as in modern times, 
the great salt-lakes at Citium and Amathus dried up 
annually and left a thick layer of excellent salt, a mar- 
vellous and unfailing source of wealth : indeed in old 
times people used to say that Citium produced salt 
enough for the whole world. 

The very name of Cyprus tells how cypress (henna) 
flourished of old in the island. The fig-trees attracted 
swarms of fig-peckers (beccaficos), a bird still common, 
and considered one of the greatest delicacies of the 
Levant ; and wherever the Greek went he took with him 
his beloved olive-tree. Palms grew, but were less common 
than since the Turkish occupation, nor did the fruit ripen. 
The mountains still retained their primeval clothing of 
pine-forests, furnishing an inexhaustible supply of navy- 
timber, and bringing to the land refreshing showers and 

Chap. VI.] Ancient Cyprus. 167 

cool airs. But during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods 
corn and wine were the chief produce of the island. The 
great central plain was covered with waving fields of 
barley ; the valley of the Pediaeus contributed almost as 
richly as the valley of the Nile and the plains of Sicily 
towards the great distributions of bread among the lower 
classes of Rome, which made that city, under the Empire, 
the lazy and hungry stomach of the civilised world. The 
wine of Cyprus was proverbial. Possibly it would have 
seemed somewhat rough to a modern taste ; but for gene- 
rosity and richness it had few equals. 

We hear veiy little, after the Greek colonists of Cyprus 
had become in a few generations acclimatised, of any of 
them having become distinguished in literature and art. 
While Rhodes, a day's sail to the west, enjoyed a lofty 
political career, exhibited the best phases of Greek culture, 
and was filled with splendid statuary produced by local 
artists, Cyprus was remarkable only for the luxury, the 
prodigality, and the dissoluteness of its inhabitants. When 
Greek fabulists and philosophers wished to bring forward 
an example of effeminate self-indulgence they quoted or 
invented a king of Cyprus. The wealth which generous 
nature heaped upon the inhabitants they spent in elaborate 
self-indulgence ; the faculties with which the Greek race 
was so abundantly endowed they exercised only in the 
invention of new and abominable forms of sensuality. The 
moral is no new one. There are spoilt children of nature 
as well as of society ; and just as the child whom his 
parents have indulged begins by slighting them and de- 
spising their wishes, so the race spoilt by nature begins by 
violating the ordinances of nature. And yet Cyprus gave 
birth to the Stoic Philosophy. Zeno of Citium owed his 
education to Athens, but he must have owed the nature 
which moulded that education to his native place. In him 
the Cyprian spirit, after sounding every deep of profligacy^ 

1 68 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vi. 

sick of the vanity of enjoyment, went into the cloister to 
seek peace in self-control and the limitation of desire. 

Everyone knows how, after a thousand years of Roman 
government and Byzantine bureaucracy, the glory of a 
second youth burst upon Cyprus. Under the Lusignan 
family the island became the bulwark of Palestine and the 
chosen home of the flower of Prankish chivalry. If the 
life which the medieval writers of romances describe ever 
became actual fact, it was there. Of the law adminis- 
tered between knight and knight we have evidence in 
the Assizes de Jerusalem, a monument of lofty feelings 
and gallant aspirations. Then tourneys and combats, 
conducted according to the most approved methods 
of fantastic chivalry, took place daily in the plain of 
the Pediaeus. Then rose Nicosia and Famagosta, cities 
splendid even at this day in their utter decay, filled with 
churches, some of them built in a style peculiar to Cyprus, 
a refinement of Norman art. Then the castle of Buffa- 
vento was erected on the perpendicular rocks of the 
northern coast, and rich abbeys like that of Bellapals 
became the abode of a host of ecclesiastics and the. 
centres of rich cultivation. The materials for the his- 
tory of this period have been collected with zeal by de 
Mas Latrie, and the subject is well worthy of an English 
pen. But we have not here space to recount it even in 
outline, and we have chosen for our subject rather the 
ancient than the medieval glories of Cyprus. We will but 
quote the testimony of Ludolf of Sudheim, an ecclesiastic 
of Paderborn, who-, visited Cyprus in the middle of the 
fourteenth century : — 

" Cyprus is the noblest, most fertile, and most illustri- 
ous of islands, and the richest too : none in all seas comes 
near to it, and in all goods it is richer than the rest. ... By 
all sea-ports, Egyptian, Syrian, Armenian, Turkish, and 
Greek, it is surrounded as with a girdle. To them all one 

Chap. VI.] Ancient Cyprus. 169 

can sail in at most one day .... Nicosia is the capital ; 
it lies in the midst of Cyprus, under the mountains, at the 
most level spot, and under the best and healthiest climate. 
In this town, because of the mildness and healthiness ot 
its air, lives the king of Cyprus and all bishops and other 
prelates of the kingdom ; and all other princes, counts, 
nobles, barons and knights for the most part, daily indulg- 
ing in tourneys, feats of arms, and especially in hunting 

Also in Cyprus are prince.s, nobles, barons, knights, and 
citizens richer than in all the world. He who should 
possess a revenue of 3000 florins * would stand lower 
than he who in Germany should have three merks. They 
squander all on hunting. I knew a count of Jaffa who kept 
more than 500 hounds, and every couple of hounds, as 
the custom is, has an attendant to itself, to cleanse, bathe 
and salve them, as is very necessary there for hounds. So 
a noble has at least ten or eleven falconers. . . . From early 
morning to evening one hears rumours and news, and all 
speeches of the world are understood, spoken, and taught 
in special schools. ... In Famagosta live a host of wealthy 
courtesans, some of whom possess more than 100,000 
florins ; but of their riches I venture to say no more." 

It is probable that the good curate, accustomed to rude- 
ness and poverty at his Westphalian home, where merks 
were not very plentiful, exaggerated a wealth which daz- 
zled him. Indeed, we are in a position to test his state- 
ments and detect his exaggerations ; for we possess an 
official list of the revenues of the landed proprietors of the 

* The gold florin was equal in value to the sequin or ducat of 
Venice. Both contained about fifty-four grains Troy of pure gold, and 
so were worth intrinsically somewhat less than half-a- sovereign. Of 
course money was in that time more valuable, but to determine the 
true modern value of a florin of the fourteenth century is an insoluble 
problem. At this period the entire revenue of England did not very 
much exceed 150,000/. The merk was worth 13^. i[d. of. the time, and 
equal intrinsically to about two of our sovereigns. 

I/O New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vi. 

island, drawn up at the end of the fifteenth century for the 
use of the Venetian senate. From this Hst it appears that 
the wealthiest lord of Cyprus, George Cornaro, brother of 
the Queen, had a rent-roll of 7000 ducats ; no other pro- 
prietor had an income of more than 3000 ducats. The 
average annual revenue of 1 20 of the richest persons in the 
island was about 480 ducats, a handsome income, no 
doubt, for the time, and probably greater than that of 
many an English nobleman, but still not so enormous as it 
seemed to the German church-mouse. 

When the Prankish knights and the Venetian rulers 
passed away, they did not leave behind them those im- 
perishable remains of roads, ports and aqueducts, which 
make the inhabitants of all countries which the Romans 
ever occupied bless the utilitarian character of their genius. 
Yet they left the island richer far than they found it. By 
the sixteenth century many products unknown at the 
Roman period increased the riches of Cyprus. Already 
in the reign of Justinian, the eggs of silk-worms were 
brought by monks from India, and Cyprus soon had a" 
flourishing silk-manufacture. The European knights intro- 
duced into the island the fruit-trees of France and Italy ; 
the sugar-cane was imported in crusading times from 
Arabia. The Knights of St. John found the wine of 
Cyprus capable of higher cultivation, and the improved 
kind of it is to this day called Commandaria, after 
them. The cotton-plant, which was raised from Persian 
seed, was first cultivated in Cyprus during the same period. 
There is in the island a tradition that the Venetians paid 
a sequin for every olive-tree planted. If, in addition to 
these improvements, we reckon the vast mass of splendid 
buildings left by the Lusignan princes, and requiring only 
to be kept in repair, we can scarcely doubt that her 
Frankish and Venetian masters deserved, on the whole, 
well of the island. 

Chap. VI.] Ancient Cyprus. 171 

In the plains and the cities the present people of 
Cyprus are a race so mixed of Italian, Tatar, Syrian, and 
even Negro elements, as to have become a caput mortutcm, 
whence no facts of ethnological value can be exti-acted. 
Among the mountains purer blood is said to prevail. In 
the Carpasian promontory of the north-east dwells a race 
fairer and stronger than the mass of the Cyprians, a race 
possibly of Teutonic blood.* But in the Olympus range 
of the south, in a valley near the site of the ancient Soli, 
Herr von Loher thinks that he has found true Greeks 
of tall and slight frame and statelier manners, and 
Mr. Hogarth is disposed to agree with him. No doubt 
in Cyprus the Greek element is largely present, as is 
proved by the persistence of Greek language, Greek 
customs, and, above all, of that charming closeness and 
affection of family life, which has preserved the Greek 
race, as it has preserved the Jewish, through centuries of 
tyranny and oppression. For ourselves, we are disinclined 
to think that the people who dwell in the mountains are 
necessarily of pure blood. They are freer, statelier, more 
manly, than the dwellers in plains ; but that is the constant 
effect of mountain-life. Amid the mountains of the Morea 
we have ourselves lighted on colonies of stately, noble folk, 
whom the traveller could scarcely hesitate to take for 
remnants of the ancient Dorians, did not history positively 
assert that they are of Sclavonian stock. The Greek of 
the coast and the plain is not so fine a fellow as the moun- 
taineer, but he is probably quite as much of a Greek. 

Many traces of the ancient religion still linger or lately 
lingered in Cyprus. Aphroditissa was commonly regarded 
as a mere alias of the Virgin Mary, and this not by the 
ignorant only, but, as Ross assures us, sometimes by the 
priests themselves. Probably when the worship of the 
Virgin Mother was introduced into Cyprus, a tradition 
* Compare Hogarth, Devia Cypria, p. 54. 

1/2 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vi. 

still lingered of the virgo coelestis of the Sidonians, and 
facilitated the identification. A religious origin was 
until lately attributed to various conical stones erect in 
the ground with great holes through them, into which 
holes the young women of the island were said to break 
their glass jewellery on their marriage, or on being be- 
trayed by their lovers ; while old women repaired to the 
spot and burnt tapers in the hope of getting rid of their 
bodily ailments. Mr. Hogarth has, however, in his Devia 
Cypria (p. 48) supported the view that these stones are 
only the remains of old oil-presses. It is probable that 
the Primate of the island, who rejoices in the title of 
/iaKapt,cl)TaTO(; and has the right of signing his name in 
red ink, inherits influence and more solid privileges owing 
to the fact that his spiritual ancestor was the high- 
priest of Aphrodite, representative of Cinyras, and chief 
of the politically-powerful guild of the priests of Paphos. 

However, our present concern is rather with the more 
substantial remains of ancient times in Cyprus : temples, 
statues, and jewelry. In all the Levant there are ex- 
aggerated notions abroad among the people as to the 
richness of buried treasures on the sites of ancient cities 
and temples. Nowhere are these notions deeper seated 
than in Cyprus. The traveller cannot explore any ruins, 
whether ancient or medieval, without being followed by 
half-a-dozen gaping natives, who watch every turn and 
every look in the hope of sharing the treasures which they 
make no doubt to be buried there, and which the stranger, 
by the help of his books, can surely find. For the belief 
there are good grounds. It is certain that in all times no 
field of archaeological research has yielded more precious 
results, if the preciousness is to be measured by money 
value, than Cyprus. But until lately the statues recovered 
were broken to pieces by the fanatical fury of iconoclastic 
Turks ; while the objects in gold and silver, which were 

Chap. VI.] Ancient Cyprus. 173 

probably plentiful, found their way at once to the melting- 
pot. Not until the year 1 867 were systematic explorations 
attempted in the island. 

In 1868 Mr. Lang, the English Consul in Cyprus, made 
extensive excavations at Dali, the ancient Idalium, a place 
situated in the hills a few hours north of Larnaca. He 
was rewarded by the discovery of a temple, in which stood 
in rows, each upon its proper pedestal, a vast quantity of 
votive statues in stone, of all sizes, and representing many 
different styles of art and ages of manufacture. In that 
part of the temple which Mr. Lang judged to be the oldest, 
these statues had sometimes an Egyptian, sometimes an 
Assyrian aspect. In the more recent parts a style appeared 
somewhat different from any to which we were accustomed, 
a style which was probably native, and peculiar to Cyprus. 
In addition, mingled with these, were what seemed to be 
copies of the early Assyrian and Egyptian statues, together 
with a few figures which bore unmistakable signs of manu- 
facture in Macedonian and Roman times. Mr. Lang also 
found beneath the floor of the temple two treasures of 
coins, issued by the various Phoenician and Greek dynasts 
of Cyprus in the fifth century before our aera. 

But by far the most valuable part of his spoil was a 
bilingual tablet containing Cyprian and Phoenician legends, 
which has proved the Rosetta Stone of the Cyprian 
language. It had long been known that the native legends 
in Cyprus were commonly written in a peculiar character, 
not so nearly resembling the Phoenician as the cuneiform 
of Assyria. This character had always defied interpreta- 
tion ; but it could no longer defy interpretation after the 
discovery of a bilingual tablet. A group of English scholars 
— Mr. Lang himself. Dr. Birch, and Mr. George Smith — 
may claim the credit of finding the clue to the mystery. 
The learned world was electrified by the discovery that 
beneath so barbarous and Oriental a character lay hid a 

1/4 -^^^ Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. VL 

mere variety of Greek, expressed, not alphabetically, but 
syllabically. And the particular dialect of Greek which 
lies hid under these unfamiliar characters is declared by 
philologists to have closer relations with the Arcadian than 
with any other variety of Greek. Few facts more interest- 
ing than these, or fuller of historical suggestion, have come 
to light of late. In historic times the Arcadians were a 
secluded and unprogressive race, dwelling amid their 
mountains as herdsmen and ploughmen, and cut off from 
the sea on all sides, by a ring of flourishing Dorian and 
Achaean cities. The migration of Arcadians to Cyprus 
must have taken place while they still had access to the 
sea and were still in the ways of commerce and migration. 
According to a Latin tradition it was Arcadians who under 
Evander settled at the foot of the Palatine Hill, and 
brought something of Greek culture into nascent Rome: 
and it is evident that this tradition receives fresh force from 
the Cyprian parallel. Dr. Diimmler* remarks that we must 
suppose the Cyprian migration to have taken place long 
before the Dorian invasion of Peloponnesus ; perhaps when 
the Achaeans first came into that district. It does not, 
however, appear that such a view is justified. Tradition 
places the colonies of Italy and of Cyprus alike in the time 
of the Trojan war ; and it is far more likely that they were 
part of the general unsettling which resulted from the 
Dorian irruption. In any case it is quite clear that the 
Greek colonists who went to Cyprus took with them no 
Phoenician alphabet ; and that when the example of neigh- 
bouring nations opened their eyes to the advantages of a 
written language, it was not to the mainland of Greece that 
they turned for letters, nor even to their powerful neighbours 
of Phoenicia ; but rather to their kinsfolk of Asia Minor. 
We learn from slight but important remains that in southern 
Asia Minor there was a large group of languages which 
* Athen. Mittheilungen, 1886, p. 256. 

Chap. VI.] Ancient Cyprus. 175 

were more or less cousins of Greek, Phrygian, Lycian, 
Pamphylian, Cilician, which used alphabets of their own, in 
some cases not based on the Phoenician, but having closer 
relation to the Assyrian, or perhaps the Hittite characters. 
We may best regard the Cyprian alphabet as one of this 
little known class. 

It is much to be regretted that the period of excavation 
which opened so auspiciously with the discovery of the 
Cyprian language has not been so successful as regards 
the language of Cyprian art. In this matter misfortune has 
succeeded misfortune. The value of Cyprian antiquities 
has caused the country to be ruthlessly exploited, and some 
of the excavators seem to have had neither the wish to 
benefit historical science, nor the necessary knowledge. 

The diggings of General Louis Palma di Cesnola began 
in 1866, and were pursued for many years, with the result 
of amassing the treasures which adorn the Metropolitan 
Museum of New York. He claims to have opened fifteen 
thousand tombs, and to have lighted on the treasure-house 
of a temple. His account of his work* is elaborate and 
well-illustrated, and should be a mine of information as to 
the art and archaeology of Cyprus. Perrot, in his valuable 
Histoire de I'art dans I'antiquite has trusted to it. But it 
has been fully established, by the careful investigations of 
a number of subsequent explorers, that Cesnola's methods 
of excavation were so unscientific, his records of them so 
incorrect, his statements so fanciful and untrustworthy, 
that the whole book must be set aside as misleading and 
worthless. A great opportunity has been missed, and 
harm of a quite irreparable character done to the cause of 
history. Louis di Cesnola's depredations were followed by 
those of his brother Alexander di Cesnola ; and then 
succeeded a time in which licence to dig for ancient remains 
was granted by the English Government to the private 
* Cyprus J its cities, tombs, and temples, 1877. 

176 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vi. 

persons who applied for it. The result was an unfortunate 
scramble. Such sites as seemed to possess antiquities of 
monetary value were dug into, without much method and' 
without record. The spoils were kept in private museums, 
or sold to the great national collections. And meantime 
little light was being brought to bear on such questions as 
the dates of various classes of remains ; the topography of 
ancient cities, the plans of ancient temples. The materials 
of knowledge were being shipped out of the island in 
abundance, but knowledge was not distilled from them; 
and it seemed as if ignorance were likely to retain for ever 
the field of Cyprian antiquity. At the same time we must 
give credit to the few who did what they could for science. 
Mr. T. B. Sandwith wrote a useful paper on Cyprian pottery 
for the Society of Antiquaries in 1878; in 1886 Dr. Diimm- 
ler published some useful but rather speculative papers on 
Cyprian tombs in the Athenian Mittheilungen, and Mr. 
Ohnefalsch Richter has from time to time published in 
various periodicals fragmentary accounts of the excavations 
which he has conducted, mainly in the interest of private 
persons. Mr. Paul Hermann's work also, Das Grdberfeld 
von Marion, is in many ways valuable, though the propor- 
tion of theory in it to fact is excessive, and the writer does 
not speak from personal experience of the excavation. 

We are bound to stop a moment to make the reflection, 
however distasteful it may be, that perhaps the only civilised 
government which would have tolerated such proceedings 
is the English. All the other states of Europe are alive to 
the fact that the remains of antiquity are a valuable source 
of knowledge and culture, and require to be protected from 
cupidity. France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Greece, pay 
annually large sums to promote systematic excavation, and 
to secure a worthy record of them. Italy, Greece, and now 
even Turkey, assert the right of the state to appropriate 
and preserve not merely ancient buildings, but all ancient 

Chap. VI.] Ancient Cyprus. 177 

works of art and records of history. England alone in her 
care for government and commerce takes insufficient care 
of historic remains ; only the English proconsul cares for 
none of these things. Even from the political point of 
view it is a mistake. Those who know the Levant tell us 
that we thus lose in general estimation. France has made 
of her long- established interest in the antiquities of Egypt, 
a political weapon of no little strength. Germany owes no 
small part of German prestige at Athens to the state 
endowment and the vigour of the German Archaeological 
School in that city. But it seems that nothing can alter 
the fixed opinion of successive English Governments that 
learning and historical science can quite well take care of 
themselves, and that a government's great concerns are 
material order and material wealth : or if education, only 
education of the. lowest grade. Thus while established 
institutions like the British and South Kensington Mu- 
seums are fairly well supported, any suggestion to give a 
grant to a new institution such as the British School of 
Athens, or a new cause such as that of excavation at home 
or abroad, is referred to the generosity of a public, out of 
which it seems impossible to extract money for archaeo- 
logical purposes, except on the smallest .scale. 

It is to be hoped that better days are arrived, since 
three years ago the High Commissioner of Cyprus, Sir H. 
Bulwer, put a stop to private digging: and the Cyprus 
Exploration Fund was formed in London in order to con- 
duct excavations in methodical order. For the last three 
winters young archaeologists from Oxford and Cambridge 
have been at work on the sites of Paphos, of Arsinoe and 
of Salamis, and have published their results in systematic 
form in the Journal of Hellenic Studies. Their main 
hindrance has been smallness of funds. While German 
excavators at Olympia and French excavators at Delphi 
have only to consider how best to make their work thorough 


178 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vi. 

and scientific, our countrymen, members of the richest 
country in the world, are stopped at every turn by material 
considerations. Here their work is limited by a piece of 
land which they cannot afford to buy ; there the trenches 
have to be stopped because they do not promise results 
tangible enough to gratify the subscribers. The aid of 
experts in architecture or engineering has to be dispensed 
with because it cannot be paid for ; and so forth. It is no 
wonder that English exploration cannot compare with that 
of other countries in all respects in which money is the 
reigning factor. 

^ Although the very outlines of Cyprian archaeology are ^ 
as yet not finally settled, still it may be possible to sketch 
the problems which it presents. Hitherto nearly all 
excavation has been directed to the graveyards ; and 
almost all that we know in regard to the early inhabitants 
of Cyprus we learn from their tombs. These tombs fall 
naturally into three classes : (i) primitive, (2) Phoenician, 
(3) Graeco-Roman. Of each class we will briefly treat. 

The graves called primitive are found mostly on sites 
in the interior of Cyprus, at Chytri, Alambra, Dali, and 
other places. They are too small to have held a human 
body unless in sitting posture ; and the probability is that 
bodies before being placed in them were burned. With 
the body lie weapons, the spear and the dagger, but not 
the sword, and pottery of a rude kind with geometrical 
devices roughly scratched or painted on them. Among this 
rougher pottery sometimes lie relics which give us more 
information, in a few cases Babylonian cylinders, sometimes 
vessels of the Mycenaean class, which, as we have already 
seen, the researches of Mr. Petrie enable us to date to the 
twelfth or eleventh century B.C. These graves may easily 
be distinguished from those of later times : but the 
ethnological enquiries which they suggest do not admit of 
any ready answer. Dr. Diimmler's view is that the forms 

Chap. VI.] Ancient Cyprus. 179 

of vessels which occur in them indicate a relation to 
Hissarlik so close as to prove not merely connection, but 
identity of race. He conceives that one race was spread 
over Cyprus before the Phoenician invasion, and the coast 
of Asia Minor ; and building on the appearance of statuettes 
in these tombs of the naked goddess who is supposed to 
be of Syrian origin, he claims this widely spread race as of 
Canaanite origin. And he supposes that it was subjugated 
or even destroyed in the island by the Phoenicians when 
at some period about the tenth century they came into it. 
This view harmonizes with that above accepted in regard 
to Phrygia. It is however not easy to distinguish from the 
graves of the primitive inhabitants, those of the earlier 
Greek settlers who built the cities of the coast. It is likely 
that in Cyprus true Greek style was of late introduction, 
and until it made its appearance the art and manufactures 
of the local Hellenes may not have greatly differed from 
those of the natives. Only in the later of these graves 
we find pottery of the Mycenaean class. 

Coming down to a later period, when we gain the help 
of coins and of inscriptions, our facts become clearer. It 
appears, as history would lead us to expect, that Citium 
was the centre of Phoenician influence in the island. We 
possess a series of coins belonging to the fifth and fourth 
centuries before our aera issued by Phoenician kings of 
Citium ; and in the graves of Citium down even to the 
Roman age Phoenician remains are prominent. On the 
other hand the graves of Salamis, as well as the coins of 
its rulers, show a strong Hellenic tendency, perhaps we 
can scarcely venture to say a marked Hellenic character. 
Idalium, which we should have supposed to belong to the 
Phoenician group of cities, seems on the contrary to have 
been predominantly Hellenic : this is shown especially 
by the testimony of coins and of the celebrated tablet 
of Idalium which records the honours bestowed on a 

N 2 

i8o New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vi. 

physician named Onesilus, which is written in Greek and 
which mentions as king of Idalium Stasicyprus and as 
magistrate Philocyprus. The names of the Priests of 
Paphos also during Persian dominion seem to be Greek. 
But both Phoenician and Greek remains are strongly 
overlaid with another element which seems to be native to 
Cyprus ; so that it would appear that the island must 
occupy a separate place in archaeology. 

It is however obvious that we cannot here speak in 
detail of the archaeological data furnished us by all the 
cities of Cyprus : we must content ourselves with a brief 
notice of recent excavations on the two sites of Paphos 
and Salamis. 

The first excavation carried out by the Cyprus Ex- 
ploration Committee was on the site of Paphos. Few 
temples were more noted in antiquity than that of the 
Cyprian Aphrodite or Vanassa ; if Salamis was the 
political centre of the island, Paphos was its religious 
centre ; and there was concentrated all that Cyprus had 
to impart to the world of hope and belief ; no high lesson 
at best, it is to be feared. In the spring of 1888 Mr. 
Ernest Gardner, Mr. Hogarth, and other archaeologists 
set to work to lay bare the plan of this temple, the 
arrangements of which are now known to us. The evi- 
dence of excavation, so far as it has yet been carried on the 
site, seems to confirm our previous conjectures. Aphrodite 
at Paphos seems not to have dwelt like Zeus at Olympia 
and Athena at Athens, in one of those stately Hellenic 
temples, adorned without with the compositions of great 
sculptors, and within with innumerable dedicated works of 
art, which were built like caskets to hold the great statues 
which embodied all that was loftiest and most charming in 
Greek religion. The representation of the Paphian god- 
dess was no masterpiece of Pheidias or Praxiteles, but a 
cone without human form, a sure indication of the antiquity 

Chap. VI.] Ancient Cyprus. i8l 

of her worship on the spot. The abode of the goddess 
also was comparatively mean, and its composition shows 
that it perpetuated to Greek and Roman times arrange- 
ments due to less civilised races. The plan* of it pub- 
lished by the excavators shows a somewhat bewildering 
medley of chambers, some earlier and some later ; 
and they leave it uncertain whether the sacred cone 
stood in one of these chambers or in the open court. It 
seems very probable that the abode of the goddess 
commonly represented on Cyprian coinsj is not the 
temple itself, but rather a smaller shrine built round the 
the cone. It bears a singularly close resemblance to a 
shrine in gold leaf found by Schhemann in one of the 
graves at Mycenae,| which must be at least 1 200 years 
older than the coins. So unchanged through centuries 
and millennia do the forms .consecrated by Oriental 
religion persist ! 

The excavations carried ori last wintei (Ion the site oL 
Salamis by Messrs. Munro ^M^l^ps have scarce]^ 
availed to give us any satisfactory notion of the arrange- 
ment and plan of the city ; but they have at least revealed 
to us some sites in it, and shown how much of that city 
still exists under a lay^ gj sand. It is clear that a 
systematic course of excavation would briflg to light very 
extensive and important remains of the Greek metropolis 
of Cyprus, would indeed probably show us more of a 
Greek city than has ever yet been discovered. Mr. Tubbs 1 
speaks of Salamis as almost offering a parallel to Hercu- 
laneum and Pompeii. If Cyprus were in the hands of any 
other European power it is likely that government excava- 
tions would soon add largely to our historic knowledge of 

* This plan was made on the' spot by Mr. R. Elsey Smith, and is 
published in the Journal of Hellenic Studies for 1888, p. 193. 
t 1. c. pp. 210, 212 ; Head, Historia Numorum, p. 628. 
X Mycenae, p. 267. 

1 82 New Chapters hi Greek History. [Chap. vi. 

Cyprus and of the Levant generally. But such excava- 
tions would require large sums of money, and it is found 
impossible in our country to procure such sums. If 
hereafter Cyprus falls into the hands of the Greeks, they 
will probably soon show how far more active and 
efficacious is their love of archaeological knowledge than 
is that of England. 

It is clear that although the civilisation of Salamis was 
in essence Hellenic, yet it had a strongly marked cha- 
racter of its own. Coins, which so often give an accurate 
picture of the growth and decay of the Greek common- 
wealths, reflect well the phases of the story of Salamis. 
Previous to the reign of the great Evagoras they bear as 
type a ram, and inscriptions in Cypriote Greek. For the 
mere heraldic device of a ram Evagoras substitutes 
beautiful representations of the Greek Herakles, and 
amid the Cyprian inscriptions we find in some cases 
ordinary Greek letters. Under the successors of Evagoras 
Greek mythological types, Zeus, Pallas, and Aphrodite, 
become usual, and by the end of the fourth century 
the Greek alphabet has supplanted the Cyprian in in- 

The new discoveries take us further back, to a time 
when Salamis was still under eastern rather than western 
influence. Especially important are a series of terra-cotta 
figures now added to the riches of the British Museum, 
which merit a careful comparison with the sculptured 
remains of Assyria and Persia ; bearded men adorned with 
abundant jewelry and clad in flowing Oriental garments, 
the rich patterns of which, in arrangement like the painted 
devices of early Greek vases, give them a singularly vivid 
look. It is evident that before the days of Marathon and 
Plataea the flowing wave of Asiatic influence had fairly 
engulfed the Greeks of Cyprus, whose soft and pleasure- 
loving disposition rendered them little fit to resist conquest 

Chap. VI.] Ancient Cyprus. 183 

whether by arms or arts. Then by degrees the tide was 
thrust back ; and Greek influence in politics and commerce, 
in art and manufacture, slowly made way in the island 
until under the Ptolemies it became an integral part of the 
Hellenistic world. 

The most interesting problem offered by Cyprian ex- 
cavation to the student of art is that presented by the 
statues made in local limestone, and found in great 
abundance in many parts of the island. Images in terra- 
cotta may have been, at least in many cases, imported ; 
but these stone figures were certainly shaped in the island 
itself. They form a group apart amid all the remains of 
antiquity, and they reflect alike the character of the 
Cyprian race and the nature of their surroundings. The 
fatal facility of the material combined with the indolence 
of the worker to produce a superficial result. Neither 
from within nor from without came the striving to labour 
out results. As M. Perrot has well pointed out, in none 
of these figures do we find any serious study of nature, in 
none do we find the attempt to represent either movement 
or emotion. There is not even any attempt at the por- 
traiture of individuals. The rich robes and the abundant 
jewelry of the natives are represented rather than them- 
selves. It is not strange that an art so languid imitated 
the style of any one of the more living arts of the nations 

When we consider the contents of a temple such as that 
found at Dali by Mr. Lang, or the Cyprian statues of the 
British Museum, the Louvre, or the Museum of New York, 
a question naturally rises : — 

Are these remains in the temples of Cyprus really a 
store gradually accumulated in the course of long ages ; 
the objects of Assyrian design dating from the times of 
Assyrian supremacy, the articles of Egyptian design 
actually made in the age when Egypt was mistress of 

184 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vi. 

Cyprus — and so on with the rest ? Or were the treasures 
accumulated in a comparatively short period, and made 
by artists who had the custom to copy styles used in 
various countries ? In studying the course of Cyprian aVt- 
manufacture, are we to interpret it on the analogy of a 
stream which flows straight down past point after point, or 
are we to interpret it on the analogy of an eddy which 
turns again and again, and runs in all directions within the 
space of a few feet ? 

This question would be much simplified if we could tell, 
to begin with, whether in attempting it we are to use 
the Hellenic or the Phoenician analogy. The history of 
Greek art we know ; we can trace it from stage to stage, 
through archaism, the transition, the period of full 
development, and the period of decline. The properly- 
trained student of Greek art will seldom hesitate to 
what century to give a statue or a gem ; while the date 
of objects of very marked style can be fixed with still 
greater precision to a particular province, almost a par- 
ticular decade. But in regard to the art of Oriental 
countries, the same precision cannot by any means 
be attained. And with regard to Phoenician art in 
particular, we find ourselves in quite a different order of 
things. Of course it is quite possible that future dis- 
coveries and investigations may afford us far more light 
than we possess as yet on the subject of Phoenician art 
But as far as we can judge at present, it would appear that 
the Phoenicians had no style of art peculiar to themselves. 
In all the works which can be with the greatest probability 
assigned to them, we find nothing but copies, of various 
degrees of goodness or badness, of Assyrian and Egyptian 
and Greek originals. Assyrian reliefs they copy, but 
confuse the elements ; Egyptian hieroglyphics they imi- 
tate, but evidently without understanding them. There 
may have been a time when they were swayed by Egyp- 

Chap. VI,] Ancient Cypms. 185 

tian influence alone, before the Assyrians reached the 
shores of the Mediterranean ; but it is certain that after 
that time on many of their works of art we find Egyptian 
and Assyrian representations and emblems mingled in the 
most intricate and the most confusing way. Phoenician 
artists seem to have copied at random all reliefs and 
figures which they anywhere saw, certainly not without 
considerable taste in grouping and great ability in execu- 
tion, but quite dropping all definite meaning. It is quite 
clear, then, that their habits make a classification of their 
works by date quite impossible, at least in the present 
state of our knowledge : for a Phoenician artist might 
introduce on the same patera or vase copies of Egyptian 
and Assyrian reliefs differing in date one from the other 
by a thousand years. Thus it would seem that the course 
of Greek art was like a stream ; that of Phoenician art 
like an eddy. Are we to class Cyprian art with the Greek 
or with the Phoenician ? 

We cannot doubt that Phoenician influence was earlier 
than Greek in Cyprus, and for ages stronger. The history 
of its gradual retrocession into the second place is obscure, 
and can be only very partially recovered. We know from 
the writers, and the unimpeachable evidence of coins, that 
in the fifth century B.C. there was a strong Phoenician 
dynasty ruling at Citium ; and we are told that Evagoras 
had to wrest the sceptre of Salamis from Phoenician grasp. 
Amathus remained, as its tombs testify, Semitic ; but with 
the foundation of the Greek city of New Paphos, Phoeni- 
cian influence must have begun to wane at Old Paphos. 
The Phoenicians probably strongly held the south coast 
about their two great cities until the time of Alexander 
the Great, but had by that time lost influence over the 
remainder of the island. 

In spite of the occasional landing of Athenian forces in 
Cyprus, the Greeks of the island were not strongly under 

1 86 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vi. 

the influence of their brethren in Hellas, and developed to 
a great extent on a course of their own. They were far 
more influenced than their compatriots by Phrygian tradi- 
tions and religion, which must have had a strong hold on 
the island before the foundation of Salamis and Soli, and 
by the semi-Assyrian civilisation which had spread over- 
land to the coast and to Asia Minor. The native Cyprian 
alphabet furnishes distinct and incontrovertible proof by 
its very existence how far Cyprus lay from the stream of 
Greek progress, and by the forms of its letters indicates a 
connection with Lycians, Pamphylians, and other semi- 
Greek peoples of Southern Asia Minor. In the style of 
his sarcophagi General Louis di Cesnola sees rightly a 
somewhat close likeness to the style of Lycian reliefs. 
Under these circumstances, we should be prepared to find 
in use among the non-Phoenician people of Cyprus a 
native style for statues and ornament, a style partly Greek, 
partly Asiatic, partly peculiar. And we should expect 
this style, while on the whole moving forward, to have 
relapses and episodes, and not to show consistent or 
vigorous development. Such expectations are on the 
whole fulfilled. It would be of little use to discuss 
Cyprian art in more detail in the absence of engravings to 
make our remarks clear. We must quit our subject with 
the hope that when history weighs the character of British 
rule in Cyprus it will appear that we have done our duty 
to the people of the island better than we have done our 
duty to the existing remains of its ancient inhabitants. 

( 187 ) 



Since the bombardment of Alexandria by the English 
fleet, learned excavators, equipped by the Egypt Ex- 
ploration Fund, have been at work in the Delta ; and 
from their labours important discoveries have resulted in 
both Biblical and Classical geography. M. Naville has 
determined the position of Pithom-Succoth, the first 
station of the Jewish exodus, as well as of the capital 
of the Land of Goshen. Mr. Petrie has identified the 
palace of Pharaoh at Tahpanhes, a spot very notable in J\ 
the story of the later Jewish Captivity ; and has further/ 
discovered and excavated, with the help of Mr. Ernest 
Gardner, the site of Naucratis,* the meeting-point in the 
seventh century B.C., of Egyptian and Greek, and the 
fulcrum by which the enterprising Hellenic race brought 
the power of their arms and of their wits to bear on the 
most ancient and venerable empire in the world. We 
must leave it to others to speak of the gains thus result- 
ing to Biblical archaeology ; our intention is to sketch in 
the light of the newly-discovered facts the relations be- 
tween the ancient Greeks and Egyptians down to the 
final establishment of a Greek dynasty in Egypt. 
Whether the first contact between Egyptian and Greek 

* Naukratis, Part I. By W. M. Flinders Petrie, 1886. Part II. 
By Ernest A. Gardner, 1888. 

1 88 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vii. 

can be traced so far back as the thirteenth century before 
the Christian era is the subject of a notable controversy. 
On the walls of the temple at Medinet Abu is painted a 
wonderful record of invasions of Egypt by great allied 
armies coming from the north, a record which, for, com- 
pleteness and vigour, is surpassed only by the memorable 
tapestry of Bayeux, which records the Norman invasion 
of England. But the fate of Egypt's invaders was not 
that of the Normans ; they are said to have been defeated 
successively by the warlike Pharaohs Menephthah II. and 
Rameses III., and either slain or reduced to slavery. Of 
their ships, their arms, and their ethnological character 
the wall-paintings give us a vivid representation, and their 
nationalities are reported in the hieroglyphic text which 
runs with the scenes of conflict and triumph. Neverthe- 
less the best authorities are not agreed as to who the 
invading armies were and whence they came. There is 
no doubt that their m.ain force consisted of Libyans, but 
with the Libyans came as allies other races, Pulosata, 
Tekkari, Danaii, Shardana, Leku, Turisha, and Akaiu- 
asha. Wiedemann considers that all these races dwelt 
near the frontiers of Egypt ; Brugsch identifies them 
with the peoples of Asia Minor, the Teucri, Lycians, 
Sardians, and the like ; while Chabas and Lenormant 
incline to spread them over a still wider area, and regard 
the invading army as a great confederacy drawn from the 
northern and eastern shores of the Aegean Sea by the 
hope of conquest and plunder. Certainly the theory that 
the contingents called those of the Danaii and Akaiuasha 
consisted of Danaans and Achaeans, and so of men of 
Hellenic race is very tempting, and is as yet by no means 

But in any case, military or piratical expeditions would 
not bring the Greeks into permanent contact with the art, 
the civilisation, and the politics of the Egyptians : to be 

Chap. VII.] Naucratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 1 89 

really formative, intercourse between nations must be 
peaceful and leisurely. 

Most of us are familiar with the delightful tale of 
Herodotus, which narrates how Psammitichus, one of the 
chiefs among whom Egypt was divided in the middle of 
the seventh century B.C., became an object of suspicion to 
his neighbours, and how they drove him out as an exile 
into the Delta ; how an oracle informed him that he 
should be set on the throne of Egypt by bronze men 
from the sea, and how these bronze auxiliaries appeared 
in the persons of Ionian and Carian sea-farers clad in 
armour, who did really win for the exile a way to the 
throne of the Pharaohs. And however much the critical 
writers of the new school, such as Wiedemann, and Sayce, 
and Busolt, may warn us against the moralising ten- 
dencies and imperfect information of Herodotus, men 
will always find a difficulty in doubting the truth of his 
stories. For ourselves, we are often disposed to take the 
part of Herodotus against modern criticism, which is apt 
to err through supposing that people in ancient days 
always acted reasonably, and valued motives according to 
the scale of Bentham. Even Wiedemann, though pos- 
sessed of admirable judgment, is inclined to reject those 
stories of Herodotus in which oracular responses play a 
leading part, and we cannot think that he is justified in 
so doing ; with moderns, reasons of state would outweigh 
the worth of an oracular response ; but we know for 
certain that among the less advanced of the Greeks, such 
as Lacedaemonians and Megarians, oracular advice would 
outweigh any reasons of expediency, and there seems 
every reason to suppose that the same frame of mind 
would prevail in the barbarian kings, who at the dawning 
of Greek history had learned to value the advice of 
the Hellenic Zeus and Apollo as delivered at their 

I go New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. YII. 

We know, indeed, from monumental evidence* that 
Psammitichus reigned as colleague of the last Ethiopian 
king of Egypt, Nut-Amen, and presumably succeeded 
him, but it can scarcely be doubted that he had great 
difficulty in making his nominal supremacy real. Whether 
he was led by an oracle, or by any other inducement, to 
seek the friendship of the Greeks and Carians, we are 
justified by a passage in Strabo in supposing that the 
Milesians were among his most important allies. Strabo 
says that in the time of Psammitichus, whom he rightly 
states to have been contemporary with Cyaxares the 
Mede, the Milesians sailed with thirty ships into the ~ 
Bolbitine mouth of the Nile, and erected a small fortress ; 
and that afterwards they sailed up ,to the Saitic nome, 
and vanquished in a sea-fight one Inaros, after which they 
founded Naucratis. Now the only Inaros mentioned in 
history is the Libyan king, who about B.C. 460 tried to 
wrest Egypt from the Persians. But he was an ally, not 
an enemy of the Greeks, and in his days Miletus existed 
only in ruins ; it is therefore certain that the Inaros whom 
the Milesians vanquished must have been a different ruler. 
As he does not appear in the Egyptian dynastic lists, we 
may be almost sure that he was a chief at the time of 
disintegration which preceded the final establishment of 
Psammitichus, when a multitude of petty potentates 
divided among them the land of the Pharaohs. Doubt- 
less he was one of the rivals whom the Greek and Carian 
allies of Psammitichus put down for him. Far from 
thinking, with Mr. Petrie, that this passage of Strabo is 
to be set aside as useless, we regard it as the simplest and 
strongest testimony as to the date of the earliest Greek 
settlement in Egypt. If with Wiedemann we fix the 

* Wiedemann, Aegyptische Geschichte (1884) p. 597. A stone 
at Boulak bears side by side the cartouches of Nut-Amen and of 
Psammitichus I. 

Chap. VIL] Naucratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 191 

accession of Psammitichus at B.C. 664, we shall regard the 
building of the Milesian fortress as having taken place 
before B.C. 670, and the first settlement of Naucratis as 
dating from about B.C. 660. 

This is the time assigned by Herodotus and Strabo for 
the earliest intercourse between Egypt and Hellas. And 
that this was the beginning of Greek knowledge of the 
Nile country, is fully confirmed by all the archaeological 
evidence which bears upon the matter, both the negative 
evidence and the positive. 

When Egypt became accessible to Greek travellers, 
they crowded to behold its wonders, and we can easily 
understand how the vast size and venerable antiquity of 
the buildings of the Pharaohs would overpower the lively 
imaginations of the visitors, and how the fixity and order 
of Egyptian society would impress them. We moderns 
can see that a Greek in Memphis or Thebes as much 
represented a higher race and a nobler order of ideas, as 
a Spaniard in Mexico, or an Englishman in Canton. 
With him lay the future, with the Egyptians only the 
past ; while they wei'e sinking into decay, he was just 
starting on his great career as master for all time in 
science and art. But in the seventh century before our 
era this was not so clear as it is now. The Greeks called 
the Egyptians barbarians, but that term had not yet 
acquired the haughty meaning which filled it at a later 
date. So when the Egyptian priests dwelt on the an- 
tiquity of their civilisation, and told the Greek travellers 
that in its presence they were like children before a 
venerable master, we cannot wonder that the strangers 
felt abashed. When Hecataeus of Miletus was rash 
enough to boast in the temple at Egyptian Thebes that 
his sixteenth ancestor was a god, the priests led him into 
an inner sanctuary, and showed him three hundred and 
forty-one statues of high-priests who had borne sway for 

192 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vil. 

life in successive generations, and told him that since 
that series began the gods had not walked the earth or 
begotten mortal men. Solon, wisest of the Greeks, is 
represented in the Timaeus of Plato as having been 
gently set down by an aged Egyptian priest : " You 
Greeks, Solon, are ever ,boys, and there is no old man 
among you ; you are young in mind, for you have no 
ancient belief handed down by long tradition, and no 
doctrine hoary with age." 

It is natural then that with minds thus cowed and over- 
shadowed by the vast age of all they found in Egypt, the 
Greeks should have been ready to believe all that was 
told them by the priests as to the derivation of the Greek 
gods and Greek rites and customs from the land of the 
Pharaohs. Herodotus is entirely vanquished. "The 
names of the gods came to Greece from Egypt." " The 
Egyptians were earliest among men in introducing re- 
ligious assemblies and processions and set prayers, and 
the Greeks learned of them." "The customs I have 
mentioned, and others which I shall mention hereafter, the 
Greeks took from the Egyptians." And later writers, 
such as Diodorus and Plutarch, speak in the same strain. 
They pass at once from a conviction of the greater an- 
tiquity of Egyptian civilisation to a belief that the Greeks 
must have borrowed from the people of Egypt those 
cults and those customs which were alike in the two 

So long as the Egyptian language was unknown and 
the early history of the country lay in darkness, modern 
writers not unnaturally adopted this view ; and the 
French savants who accompanied to Egypt the army of 
Bonaparte went with an eager expectation that they 
would find in the land of the pyramids the source alike 
of the religions and of the civilisation of antiquity. They 
hoped to find the origin not only of the laws of Solon, 

Chap. VII.] Naucratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 193 

but also of those of Moses, and to prove that the earliest 
civilisation in the world was also one of the wisest and 
most fruitful. It is hardly necessary to say that the 
reading of the hieroglyphic texts, combined with the 
progress of the historical sciences, has put an end to all 
such sanguine anticipations. We now know that, high as 
was the development of Egyptian civilisation in certain 
directions, it was by no means the fertile mother of other 
civilisations ; rather, like that of China, a complete and 
fully developed growth, but not in the main line of human 
progress. All modern writers are agreed that religious 
cults and national customs are exactly what the Greeks 
did not borrow from Egypt, any more than the Hebrews 
borrowed thence their religion, or the Phoenicians their 
commerce. All are agreed that before the reign of Psam- 
mitichus and the founding of Naucratis, Egypt was a 
sealed book to the Greeks. It is likely that the Phoe- 
nicians, who were from time to time the subjects of the 
Pharaohs, were admitted, where aliens like the Greeks 
were excluded. We have indeed positive evidence that 
the Egyptians did not wish strange countries to learn 
their art, for in a treaty between them and the Hittites it 
is stipulated that neither country shall harbour fugitive 
artists from the other. But however the fact may be 
accounted for, it is an undoubted fact that long before 
Psammitichus threw Egypt open to the foreigner, the 
Phoenicians had studied in the school of Egyptian art, 
and learned to copy all sorts of handiwork procured from 
the valley of the Nile. This is proved not only by the 
excavations in Greece, but by the results of Sir Henry 
Layard's investigations at Nimrud, where many Phoe- 
nician bowls of Egyptising style were found in the north- 
west palace, as well as by the results of M. Kenan's 
mission to Phoenicia. 

What kind of influence it was which, after the build- 


194 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vil. 

ing of Naucratis, Egyptian civilisation exercised upon 
Greek beliefs and laws and arts, we shall presently con- 
sider ; for the present we will resume the thread of Egyp- 
tian history, which exhibits the other phase of the con- 
nection, the influence of Gi^eek character and valour on 
the political fortunes of the valley of the Nile. 

Psammitichus made his birthplace, Sal's, the capital of 
Egypt. AH the country had greatly suffered in the wars 
with the fierce and brutal Assyrians, and the ancient 
capitals Memphis and Thebes were greatly reduced ; but 
this was not the only reason for passing them by in 
favour of a site in the Delta. The fatal step of calling in 
armed strangers compelled Psammitichus, after becoming 
king, still to lean on their support. He attracted to 
Egypt large bodies of Carian and Ionian mercenaries, 
and settled them at Daphnae, on the Pelusian branch of 
the Nile, a spot well chosen as an outpost against possible 
invasion from Asia. Here the new-comers occupied 
fortified camps on both sides of the river. Herodotus 
says that the King entrusted to them certain Egyptian 
children to bring up, and that these became the parents 
of the entire caste of interpreters, who in the next age 
became the intermediaries between Greek and Egyptian. 
If the mercenaries came, as was probable, without wife or 
child, it is likely that Egyptian women were assigned to 
them, and that a large number of half-breeds arose, of 
whom a separate caste would naturally be formed by 
the exclusive and stranger-hating dwellers by the Nile: 
indeed we are inclined to interpret in this way the state- 
ment of Herodotus. 

Mr. Petrie has made on the site of Daphnae* some ex- 
cavations which have led to interesting results from many 
points of view. He found the site of the camps, and in 
the soil of them weapons and horse-gear. He also found 

* Tanis, Nebesheh and Defenneh. By W. M. Flinders Petrie, 1888. 

Chap. VII.] Naucratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 195 

the foundations of a fort, beneath the corners of which 
were placed, according to the Egyptian custom, founda- 
tion deposits recording the name of the builder of it, 
The name is in this case Psammitichus ; a fact entirely 
confirming Mr. Petrie's views. But the place was not 
only a military outpost, it also became a Greek settle- 
ment ; this is proved alike by the quantity of early 
Hellenic pottery found on the site, and by the statement 
of Herodotus that in his time the docks used by the 
inhabitants still existed in ruins, for docks imply trade. 
Amasis, as we shall presently see, removed the Greeks 
from Daphnae and put an Egyptian garrison in their 
place, which again had given way in Herodotus' time to a 
Persian garrison ; the rulers of Egypt, whoever they were, 
had to maintain here an outpost against the fierce Be- 
dawin tribes of Syria. We can thus date the Greek 
colony at Daphnae as having lasted from about B.C. 664 
to about 570 ; and it is a great gain to be able to assign 
with confidence all the objects found at Daphnae to this 
one century. 

Egypt seems at once to have recovered some prosperity 
under the new ruler with his new allies. Temples of the 
gods arose, or were restored, on all sides, as we learn 
from many a dedicatory inscription still preserved. And 
it is interesting to find in the art of the Salte kings a 
marked new impulse. At this period, writes Wiedemann, 
in sculptured figures "the proportions of the body grow 
slimmer and more shapely, the muscles are worked out 
with greater naturalism. The features of the face, even 
the hair, shows a treatment careful in the smallest detail, 
and in the modelling of the ear and nose especially we 
may discern the industry and talent of the artists." And 
the new impulse was not less visible in arms than in art. 
After securing Egypt from invasion, by fixing strong 
garrisons on its eastern, western, and southern borders, 

O 2 

196 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. VII. 

Psammitichus marched with his native army and his 
Greek allies into Syria. Ashdod was taken after a long 
siege, and inscriptions found at Aradus and Tyre prove 
that all Palestine fell at this time into the hands of the 
Pharaohs. But a still more powerful invader came from 
the north ; the dreaded and destructive, host of the 
Cimmerians poured down into Syria, burning and slaying 
like the Mongol hordes of later times. Psammitichus 
was fain to retire ; he is said to have bought his safety 
with money, and perhaps, but for his castle of Daphnae, 
the plague of human locusts might have followed him to 
the banks of the Nile. 

According to Herodotus and Diodorus, the favour 
shown to the Greeks by the King was the cause of a 
great revolt of the native Egyptian troops, who left the 
frontier-fortresses, and marched south beyond Elephan- 
tine, where they settled, resisting all the entreaties of 
Psammitichus, who naturally deplored the loss of the 
mainstay of his dominions, and developed into the race 
of the Sebridae. Wiedemann, however, rejects the whole 
story as unhistorical, and certainly, if we closely con- 
sider it, it contains great inherent improbabilities. Even 
among a people naturally so unwarlike as the Egyptians, 
a great revolt of troops, and the march of an armed force 
from end to end of Egypt, could scarcely take place 
without some fighting. 

Psammitichus died in B.C. 610, and was succeeded by 
his son Necho, who was his equal in enterprise and 
vigour. This King paid great attention to the fleet of 
Egypt, and Greek shipwrights were set to work on both 
the Mediterranean and Red Seas to build triremes for 
the State navy. A fleet of his ships, we are told, suc- 
ceeded in sailing round Africa, a very great feat for the 
age. The King even attempted the task, of which the 
completion was reserved for the Persian Darius, the 

Chap. VII.] Naucratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 197 

Ptolemies, and Trajan, of making a canal from the Medi- 
terranean to the Red Sea. Herodotus says that, after 
sacrificing the lives of 120,000 men to the labour and 
heat of the task, he gave it up, in consequence of the 
warning of an oracle that he was toiling only for the 
barbarians. It is an easy task with Wiedemann to sug- 
gest reasons for its abandonment of a more political and 
statesmanlike character, such as a wish to stop the waste 
of human life, or a fear which in such cases has at all 
periods of history terrified engineers, that the levels of 
the two seas might prove quite different, and that the 
waters might make a breach over the land. But, after all, 
we have no reason for assuming that a Pharaoh would 
always act from motives which we would approve, and the 
simplest plan is to take the story as it stands, perhaps 
with a grain of salt. 

Necho, like his father, must needs try the edge of his 
new weapon, the Ionian mercenaries, on Asia. At first 
he was successful Josiah, King of Judah, came out 
against him, but was slain, and his army dispersed. 
Greek valour carried Necho as far as the Euphrates, and 
in gratitude the King dedicated to Apollo in the temple 
of the Branchidae at Miletus the linen cuirass which he 
wore. But Nebuchadnezzar, son of the King of Babylon, 
marched against the invaders, and defeated them in a 
great battle near Carchemish. His father's death recalled 
him to Babylon, and Egypt was for the moment saved 
from counter-invasion by the stubborn resistance offered 
to the Babylonian arms by Jehoiakim, King of Judah, 
a resistance fatal to the Jewish race ; for Jerusalem was 
captured after a long siege, and most of the inhabitants 
carried into captivity. 

Of Psammitichus II., who succeeded Necho, we should 
know but little were it not for the archaeological record. 
Herodotus only says that he attacked Ethiopia, and died 

1 98 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vn. 

after a reign of six years. But of the expedition thus 
summarily recorded we have a lasting and memorable 
result in the well-known inscriptions written by Rhodians 
and other Greek mercenaries on the legs of the colossi 
at Abu Simbel in Nubia, which record how certain of 
them came thither in the reign of Psammitichus, pushing 
up the river in boats as far as it was navigable, that is, 
perhaps, up to the second cataract. The importance of 
these inscriptions to the history of Greek epigraphy is 
well known ; but their testimony had hitherto lost much 
of its force, because it could not be finally determined 
whether they belonged to the reign of the first or second 
Psammitichus. Of late most scholars have agreed with 
Wiedemann in assigning them to the later monarch ; and 
the excavations at Naucratis seem to prove definitely that 
this view is right. Mr. Ernest Gardner, who publishes 
with accuracy the numerous Greek inscriptions which were 
found at Naucratis, proves that many of them are of 
considerably earlier date than the inscriptions of Abu 
Simbel. As the earliest Naucratic inscriptions, however, 
cannot date from an earlier time than the reign of the 
first Psammitichus, when Naucratis was founded, it is 
certain that the Abu Simbel inscriptions must belong to 
the reign of the second king of that name. 

Apries, the Hophra of the Bible, was the next king, j 
The early part of his reign was marked by successful 
warfare against the Phoenicians and the peoples of Syria ; 
but, like his predecessor, he was unable to maintain a 
footing in Asia in the face of the powerful and warlike 
Nebuchadnezzar. The hostility which prevailed between 
Egypt and Babylon at this time, caused King Apries to 
open a refuge for those Jews who fled from the persecu- 
tion of Nebuchadnezzar. He assigned to their leaders, 
among whom were the daughters of the King of Judah, 
a palace of his own at Daphnae, "Pharaoh's house at 

Chap. VII.] Naucratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 199 

Tahpanhes," as it is called by Jeremiah. That prophet 
was among the fugitives, and uttered in the palace a 
notable prophecy (xliii. 9) that King Nebuchadnezzar 
should come and spread his conquering tent over the 
pavement before it. Formerly it was supposed that this 
prophecy remained unfulfilled, but this opinion has to 
be abandoned. Recently-discovered Egyptian and Baby- 
lonian inscriptions prove that Nebuchadnezzar conquered 
Egypt as far as Syene, at which point a certain general 
named Hor claims to have stopped his advance. Mr. 
Petrie, while investigating the site of Daphnae, has found 
fresh evidence to the same effect. He has discovered the 
ruins of a royal palace built by Psammitichus I., which 
to this day, most curiously, bears the title of "the house 
of the Jew's daughter ; " ruins which by their condition 
prove that the palace was destroyed by a hostile invader, 
in all hkelihood by the Babylonian monarch. He has 
even found the square pavement on which, according to 
the Prophet, Nebuchadnezzar should set up his tent. 
There are few people who do not feel in the presence of 
facts like these that our grasp of many scenes of ancient 
history is becoming stronger, and our outlook clearer. 

The fall of Apries was brought about by his ingratitude 
to the Greeks, and his contempt for the lives of his own 
subjects. He had formed the project of bringing under 
his sway the Greek cities of the Cyrenaica, at that time 
in a most wealthy and flourishing condition, prospering 
under the rule of the Battiad princes, and drawing within 
the circle of Hellenic commerce all the nomadic nations 
of Northern Africa. Apries despatched against Cyrene 
a large force ; but the Cyreneans bravely defended them- 
selves, and as the Egyptians on this occasion marched 
without their Greek allies, they were entirely defeated, 
and most of them perished by the sword, or in the deserts 
which separate Cyrene from Egypt. The defeated troops, 

200 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. VII. 

and their countrymen who remained behind in garrison 
in Egypt, imputed the disaster to treachery on the part 
of Apries, believing that he would willingly reduce the 
number of his Egyptian warriors in his partiality for 
their Greek allies. They revolted, and chose as their 
leader Amasis, a man of experience and daring. But 
Apries, though ■ deserted by his subjects, hoped still to 
maintain his throne by Greek aid. At the head of thirty 
thousand lonians and Carians he marched against Amasis. 
At Momemphis a battle took place between the rival 
kings and between the rival nations ; but the numbers 
of the Egyptians prevailed over the arms and discipline 
of the mercenaries, and Apries was defeated and captured 
by his rival, who, however, allowed him for some years to 
retain the name of joint- king. 

It is the best possible proof of the solidity of Greek 
influence in Egypt at this time that Amasis, though set 
on the throne by the native army after a victory over the 
Greek mercenaries, yet did not expel these latter from 
Egypt, but, on the contrary, raised them to higher favour 
than before. The troops which had been settled at 
Daphnae in the " Camps," he brought to Memphis to be 
his body-guard. Herodotus says that it was Amasis who 
gave Naucratis to the Greeks to settle in ; this is in- 
correct, since the inscriptions found at Naucratis prove 
beyond a doubt that the city was in the possession of 
Greeks before the time of Psammitichus II. ; but it may 
well be that Amasis accorded to the city special privi- 
leges, and laid the foundation of its great prosperity. 
Mr. Petrie's careful investigations enable us to conjecture 
what it was that Naucratis owed to the favour of Amasis, 
— the building of the Hellenion, of which we shall 
presently have to speak. 

Amasis entered more fully than his predecessors into 
the stream of the history of the Levant. He conquered 

Chap. VII.] Naticratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 201 

Cyprus and the cities of Phoenicia, and he won victories 
over the Arabs. He won by wisdom what Apries had 
vainly sought by arms, a predominant influence in Cy- 
rene ; and a fair daughter of that city became his queen. 
He gave fresh impulse to the cutting of canals and the 
extension of agriculture, and we are told that in his day 
there were in Egypt twenty thousand flourishing cities, 
a statement which seems to be an exaggeration. To 
him was ascribed the promulgation of the law, that every 
year each dweller in Egypt should report to the ruler of 
the district where he lived by what means he made a 
living, those who could make no satisfactory statement 
being condemned to death. This is among the earliest 
of recorded poor-laws, and it is certainly one of the most 
drastic ; whether there was any relation between it and 
the flourishing condition of the country we cannot venture 
to say. 

In the delightful dawn of connected European history 
we see Amasis as a wise and wealthy prince, ruling in 
Egypt at the time when Polycrates was tyrant of Samos ; 
and when Croesus of Lydia, the richest king of his time, 
was beginning to be alarmed by the rapid expansion of 
the Persian power under Cyrus. We hear of Pythagoras 
visiting him and obtaining letters from him to the priests 
of Egypt, which induced them to communicate to that 
earliest of mystics some of their choicest secrets. Thales 
was also a welcome guest at the court of Amasis. We 
need not repeat the story, familiar in these days to 
children, of the friendship between Amasis and Poly- 
crates, and how Amasis broke off" that friendship because 
he was convinced that some calamity impended over 
Polycrates. Wiedemann's version is that Amasis was 
afraid that he might be landed in difficulties, supposing 
that Polycrates should quarrel with his subjects ; but 
we must confess that the German professor's explanation 

202 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. VII. 

seems to us uncomfortably modern, while the story of 
the ring of Polycrates suits admirably the whole mental 
and religious atmosphere of Greek antiquity. Critical 
historians are bound to make new theories in such a case ; 
but the tale of Herodotus will outlive them all, and afford 
a starting-point for fresh theories a thousand years hence. 
The alliance of Amasis and Croesus must in any case be 
taken as a historical fact, for there were Egyptian troops, 
perhaps we should rather say a body of Egypto-Greek 
mercenaries, in the Lydian army when Cyrus defeated 
it ; the Persian king especially noticed their valour, and 
gave them lands for settlement in Asia Minor, where 
their descendants dwelt in later times. 

In the days of Psammitichus III., the son of Amasis, 
the storm which had overshadowed Asia broke upon 
Egypt. One of the leaders of the Greek mercenaries 
in Egypt named Phanes, a native of Halicarnassus, made 
his way to the Persian Court, and persuaded Cambyses, 
who, according to the story, had received from Amasis 
one of those affronts which have so often produced wars 
between despots, to invade Egypt in full force. In a 
battle fought at Pelusium about B.C. 525, the Egyptians 
and their Greek allies were utterly defeated by the 
Persian king, and this one victory laid Egypt at his feet. 
As the Persian conquest is the beginning of quite a new 
era in Egyptian history, and as it closes the time of the 
greatest prosperity of Naucratis, we will at this point 
interrupt our sketch of Egyptian history, in order to trace 
the fortunes of that city during the reigns of the Phil- 
hellenic monarchs of the Saite line. 

On the subject of the position of Naucratis there is 
distinct and irreconcilable contradiction between Ptolemy 
and the map of Peutinger on one side and Strabo on the 
other. The two former authorities place the city to the 
left (looking down the stream) of the Canobic branch of 

Chap. VII.] Naucratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 203 

the Nile, that is to say, outside the Delta enclosed by 
the Canobic and Pelusiac branches ; while Strabo as 
clearly places the city within the Delta and on the right 
of the Canobic branch. Most modern writers had fol- 
lowed Strabo ; but certainty would never have been 
attained, but for the spade. That useful instrument has 
settled the controversy : — 

" It was by the merest accident," writes Mr. Petrie,* 
" that I got the clue to the site of Naucratis. An Arab 
at the Pyramids sold me an archaic Greek statuette, 
and, cross-questioning him, I heard of the place from 
which he had brought it. I visited the site as soon as I 
could, and found that the ground which the Arabs had 
cleared was strewn with pieces of early Greek pottery. 
When I went there to begin work this past season " 
(1884-5), "I saw at the very house where I obtained 
quarters a decree of the city of Naucratis which had 
been found in the ruins ; and it only needed the results 
of our excavations to turn a hopeful probability into a 

The site thus identified is at present on a canal to 
the west of the westernmost branch of the Nile ; thus 
by the logic of facts Ptolemy is proved to be right and 
Strabo wrong. 

On another point the correction of classical authorities 
is rather less conclusive. At present the site of Naucratis 
is on a canal which joins the Nile some miles off, while 
in many statements of ancient writers it seems to be 
implied that the city stood on the river itself. Mr. Petrie 
is at no loss for reasons why a canal would be a more 
satisfactory channel of communication with the outer 
world than a river. 

" If Naucratis f had been on an open branch of the 

* Report of the Egypt Exploration Fund, 1885, p. 15. 
t Ibid. 

204 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. VIL 

river, it would have been almost unapproachable during 
the three months of the inundation. And then these 
three months were the most valuable of all for trade; 
since then the natives had nothing to do, the whole land 
being under water, and at the same time they had all 
the proceeds of the harvest lying by in hand. This was 
then the great time for the Greek traders ; and when 
the villages stood out of the water like the islands of 
the Aegean, as Herodotus describes them, the Greek 
pedlars were doubtless pushing their fortunes actively 
in shallow boats, sailing from village to village." 

Perhaps this argument, that a city on the Nile itself 
could not be approached during the inundation, must 
not be too much relied on, since almost all the cities 
of Egypt did stand on the Nile. And when Mr. Petrie 
goes on to cite Herodotus as a witness in favour of the 
position of Naucratis on a canal, he seems to us to 
misquote Herodotus. He writes, "Herodotus expressly 
says that, when the Nile was in flood, they sailed up 
from Naucratis to Memphis by the canal which flowed 
past the Pyramids, owing to the stream of the river 
being too strong against them." But what Herodotus 
really says (ii. 97) is quite different. "At this season 
(of inundation) boats no longer keep the course of the 
river but sail right across the plain. On the voyage 
from Naucratis to Memphis at this season, you pass 
close to the Pyramids, whereas the usual course is by 
the apex of the Delta." But though we cannot agree 
with Mr. Petrie's reasoning, he has his fact. The site 
of Naucratis is now on a canal, and must have been 
so originally, unless the course of the Nile has changed, 
which is scarcely unlikely. 

By a close attention to the stratification of the remains 
of Naucratis, Mr. Petrie has recovered for us the outlines 
of the history of the city. The lowest stratum of all 

Chap. VII.] Naucratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 205 

is a bed of charcoal and ashes, which seems to be the 
result of a conflagration of a cluster of poor houses 
built in large part of wood. This village may have been 
the earliest settlement of the Greeks ; but it seems to 
us equally probable that it may have been a native 
Egyptian village, or perhaps a settlement of Phoenicians, 
conquered and destroyed by the Milesians when they 
came to make a settlement in the land. The next stage 
of the history of Naucratis, corresponding almost to 
a certainty with the reign of Psammitichus I., has left 
us more distinct and solid memorials. Among these 
memorials must first be mentioned a large quantity of 
scarabs and moulds for scarabs, evidently the stock in 
trade of a maker of seals and amulets. Of these many 
bear the name of Psammitichus I., some those of Psam- 
mitichus II., and apparently of Apries. Here the series 
comes to an abrupt conclusion, and it would seem from 
the extent of the stock suddenly thrown away or buried, 
that the cessation of the factory must have been caused 
by some event which greatly disturbed the trade of 
Naucratis, perhaps, as Mr. Petrie suggests, the defeat of 
Apries' Greek mercenaries. We may observe in passing, 
that scarabs imitated from those of Egypt, and like 
those produced in the factory just mentioned, have been 
found in Rhodes, and on other Greek sites. They have 
always hitherto been supposed to be of Phoenician work, 
but in future archaeologists will be more inclined to 
regard them as imported from Naucratis. 

To the same period as the factory of scarabs belongs 
the foundation of the earliest Greek temples of Nau- 
cratis. Of these several are mentioned in a well-known 
passage of Herodotus (ii. 178), who says that, beside 
the Hellenion, which belonged to the Greeks in common, 
the Aeginetans founded a temple of Zeus, the Samians 
one of Hera, and the Milesians one of Apollo. An 

2o6 Nezv Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vii. 

early temple of Aphrodite is also spoken of by Athe- 
naeus (xv. i8). Of these temples the Hellenion and 
the temple of Apollo were found by Mr. Petrie in 1885 ; 
the temples of Hera and Aphrodite were discovered in 
1886, when the excavations were continued by Mr. 
Ernest Gardner. A temple dedicated to the Dioscuri 
has also been discovered. Of the Hellenion we shall 
presently have to speak. The other temples mostly 
show proofs of early foundation and subsequent re- 
foundation ; of the successive temples of Apollo, a few 
fragments, interesting in point of architectural detail, 
have been preserved. All the temples, however, are very 
small ; if we compare them with contemporary temples 
of the West or of Asia Minor, with the magnificent 
structures of Paestum, of Agrigentum, or of Ephesus, 
they will indeed seem mean. Their scale proves beyond 
question that we must not think of Naucratis, even when 
at the height of its fortunes, as of a great or wealthy 
city, but rather as of an emporium or trading-station, 
chiefly important as being the point at which the Greek 
and Egyptian civilisations met. 

But time, which has destroyed all that was splendid 
in the temples of Naucratis, the marble pillars, the 
cultus-statues, the dedicated vessels of gold and silver, 
has made some amends by preserving to us their rubbish- 
heaps. It was the custom of the city that Greeks who 
entered Egypt by that way should dedicate to the 
patron deity under whose protection they voyaged a 
statuette or vessel of pottery in memory of a safe 
journey. On the object so dedicated they would in- 
scribe the name of the donor. And as from time to 
time the temples became too full of these pious offer- 
ings, the temple officers would dig a trench and bury 
all that they judged to be superfluous, breaking them up 
for economy of space. Out of such trenches Mr. Petrie 

Chap. VII.] Naucratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 207 

and Mr. Gardner have extracted thousands of fragments 
of pottery, painted with figures, or inscribed with dedi- 
catory formulae, besides many statuettes, mostly frag- 
mentary also. To build up these fragments into vases, 
nearly or partly complete, has been a laborious task, of 
which the results can scarcely fail to be valuable. We 
have acquired a long series of inscriptions for the epi- 
graphist ; and for the archaeologist a quantity of vases, 
which can be dated by means of the inscriptions which 
they bear. And we have acquired a sort of visitor's 
album, a record of the Greeks who went to Egypt, 
from the foundation of the city under Psammitichus, 
down to the Persian conquest, when these dedicatory 
customs seem to have been discontinued. Among these 
is one name of no ordinary interest, that of Rhoecus, 
probably the same sculptor Rhoecus who was in an- 
tiquity spoken of as having worked in the Egyptian 
style, and who was at the same time, with his son 
Theodorus, one of the originators of the production in 
Greece of statues of divinities. In another case we have 
a possible autograph of Sappho,* whose brother, if not 
herself, is known to have journeyed to Naucratis. On 
one large vessel we read the name of Phanes, the son 
of Glaucus, whom we can scarcely be wrong in identi- 
fying with the Greek captain of mercenaries, who led 
Cambyses into Egypt. 

It is a point which never can be finally settled, how 
much Amasis did for the Greeks of Naucratis, and in 
what light he really regarded them. The two statements 
of Herodotus — first, that he won his throne through 
Egyptian support and a victory over the Greeks ; and 
secondly, that he was a great friend and patron of the 
Greeks, — seem at first sight to be discordant. Mr. Petrie 
endeavours with considerable ingenuity to reconcile them. 
* Naukratis, Part I. p. 62, No. 532. 

2o8 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vii. 

He maintains that the abolition of other Greek settle- 
ments in Egypt, and the concession of a monopoly of 
Greek trade to Naucratis, was really an act quite as agree- 
able to the conservative inhabitants of Egypt as to the 
people of Naucratis themselves. It confined the Greek 
traders within definite limits, and prevented them from 
forming settlements in the great Egyptian cities, where 
their business activity, their love of innovation, their 
curiosity and talkativeness, would render them very 
unpleasant. We may be quite sure, however, that unless 
the Greeks had in some way had the best of the 
bargain, they would not have formed of Amasis the 
very favourable opinion which Herodotus repeats. The 
likelihood is, that the King, being a .wise and liberal- 
minded man, saw that the goodwill of the foreigners 
was necessary to him, and behaved towards them in a 
generous spirit, at the same time conceding something 
to the exclusiveness of his native subjects. 

With the reign of Amasis, Naucratis reached its highest 
point of commerce and renown. Herodotus says that 
he allowed the Greeks of Naucratis to dedicate precincts 
to various deities. It is a curious confirmation of this 
statement that, according to Mr. Petrie, while the founda- 
tions of the temple of Apollo date from somewhat after 
the middle of the seventh century, the outer wall of his 
precinct appears to have been built a century later. We 
also venture to think it probable that the building of the 
Hellenion belongs to the reign of Amasis. This is not 
indeed stated by any ancient writer, nor can we prove 
it from the results of excavation ; but it seems to be 
implied in what Herodotus says, and is in no way in- 
consistent with the testimony of the spade. 

After enumerating the Greek cities which had a 
share in the foundation of the Hellenion, Herodotus 
adds : " These are the states to which the enclosure 

Chap. VII.] NaiLcratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 209 

belongs ; and it is these states which appoint overseers 
of the market ; other states which claim a share in it, 
claim that to which they have no right. Besides, the 
Aeginetans by themselves founded an enclosure of Zeus, 
the Samians of Hera, and the Milesians of Apollo." It 
is thus evident that the Hellenion not only contained 
a temple or temples dedicated to the gods of Greece, 
but also an important market. This Hellenion Mr. Petrie 
has, almost beyond a doubt, discovered, and it fully 
bears out the description of Herodotus. 

The enclosure consisted of a vast rectangle, some 
250 yards square, bounded by a wall about 50 feet in 
thickness and in height, made of native brick. It 
contained two great buildings. Of these, one has en- 
tirely disappeared : the natives, who have in quite recent 
times destroyed it for the sake of its materials, state 
that it contained passages and rooms, with an entrance 
on the ground-floor, " like a house in Cairo." More 
than this we can never know about it ; but we may 
conjecture that it served rather for a dwelling-place 
than for temples of the gods. Of the other building 
there are abundant remains, and a most singular struc- 
ture it must have been, but admirably adapted, like 
everything Greek, to the end which those who planned 
it had in view. It was in form a square, 60 yards 
each way, framed by walls 16 feet thick and about 
60 feet high. The entrance was at 18 feet above the 
ground, evidently approached by a wooden scaffolding, 
which could be on occasion removed, and led into a 
passage, from which branched off to right and left 
twenty-six chambers. Under each of these chambers 
was a cellar, but the cellars did not communicate one 
with the other. There were also upper floors divided 
into chambers in similar fashion. 

It is at once evident that we have in this building 


2IO New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vii. 

a great market and store-house. The deep cellars 
each only accessible from the chamber above it, would 
furnish ample and secure space for storage ; the rooms 
above would serve as show-rooms and offices, as well as 
work-rooms. The whole would form a hive of industry 
much like a modern factory, full of looms and wheels 
and the sound of iron and brass. Than the agora in 
ordinary Greek cities, nothing could be more open and 
simple. Outdoor life, with crowding and talking and 
sight-seeing, suited the restless and enquiring Greek. 
Yet here we see him living in a vast pile of building. 
And the reason is clear. In Hellas he felt himself to be 
surrounded by friends and fellow-citizens. But in Egypt 
he felt that he was surrounded by an alien race and 
a rival civilisation ; by a people who frankly despised 
instead of admiring him, and would be delighted at 
any opportunity to drive him into the sea. So he took 

Close consideration of the factory shows it to have 
been admirably fitted for defence, whether against a 
crowd or an army. There was no entrance save at 
1 8 feet from the ground, the approach to which could 
easily be removed. 

" If an enemy began to mine the wall, which was 
i6 feet thick, he would at last, on getting through it, 
find himself in the bottom of a well " (that is in one of 
the cellars), " from which the besieged would have had 
ample time and notice to remove all means of com- 
munication. To mount a wall i8 feet high to a doorway, 
in the face of opponents above, would be impossible; 
or even the floors might be taken out and the doors 
fastened, so that the defenders could hurl down stones 
from a height of 50 feet or more on the enemy. The 
building was simply impregnable to direct attack, and 
has never been breached in this way." 

Chap. VII.] Naiicratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 211 

Nor would it be a hopeful task to try to reduce by 
famine a place so abounding in storage-room for food 
and wine. And even before attempting either assault 
or blockade, the enemy would have to storm the outer 
wall of the great enclosure, 50 feet thick. 

As we are now busy with the Hellenion, it may be 
well to sketch its history from the foundation onwards. 
It appears that at some time during the Persian rule 
part of the outer wall of the enclosure was broken down, 
,when and how we know not. Ptolemy Philadelphus 
determined on its restoration. In the breach he set a 
large building, faced with limestone, no doubt for offices 
and for commerce. In connection with this building 
occurred some of the most interesting discoveries of the 
year.. Mr. Petrie found that exactly under each corner 
of it had been buried a set of foundation deposits, which 
clearly marked the date and character of the structure. 
In each deposit were models of the tools used for the 
building, and specimens of the materials employed in its 
construction ; a model brick, a plaque of turquoise, jasper, 
agate and obsidian ; an ingot of gold, of silver, lead, 
copper and iron ; also models of ceremonial implements, 
libation vases, corn rubbers, a knife and an axe, to- 
gether with cartouches of Ptolemy himself This dis- 
covery is not only charming in itself, but of great 
promise for the future, because it affords us hope of 
being able hereafter often to determine the date and 
character of Egyptian buildings, even when they have 
perished to the ground, since Ptolemy followed an 
old custom of the country in burying such record of 
his works. 

In the Roman age the building of Ptolemy was pulled 

, down, and its materials used for the erection of the 

houses and offices of Roman officials dwelling in the 

enclosure. But by that time Naucratis had gone far 

P 2 

212 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. Yll, 

on the downward road leading from greatness to 

In all Greek cities, as is well known, there were two 
main parts, the acropolis and the lower city. At Nau- 
cratis there was no hill whereon to build an acropolis ; 
the Hellenion, with its mighty walls, took the place of 
a citadel and refuge in case of danger. At its gates 
lay the dwelling-houses of the city, its streets and 
docks. Of these houses and streets the plan has, to 
some extent, been discovered by Mr. Petrie. Though 
the site has been ruined and the whole ground carried 
away by the Arab diggers of sebach, yet by pains and 
study the lines of street can be followed, and the walls 
of the houses distinguished from the mud in which they 
are embedded. And these investigations prove, that 
the city at its best was small and poor. The contrast 
between the chief Greek settlement in Egypt and the 
contemporary Greek settlements in Italy and Sicily, on 
the Aegean and the Euxine, is indeed marked, and calls 
for explanation. 

Nor is the explanation far to seek. When the swarms 
thrown off by the parent cities of Greece landed in a 
country inhabited by Thracians or Phrygians, by wander- 
ing Libyan tribes or the (rude but' hardy races of South 
Italy, they came as a superior race, bringing with them 
at least the rudiments of arts and letters, as well as 
social order and habits of self-government. Those 
among whom they settled at once felt their superi- 
ority ; and they had a proud consciousness of it them- 
selves. They did not hesitate, even if they were few 
in number, to trace a great circuit for walls, and to 
set aside extensive precincts for their native deities. 
They knew that expanding Greece was behind them, 
and that their compatriots would flock after them 
across the sea. The peoples among whom they settled 

Chap. VII.] Naiicratis, tind the Greeks in Egypt. 213 

might sometimes harass them by force of arms, but 
had no arts, no civihzation, no ideas which could be 
set up against theirs. They were the force of light 
invading the kingdom of darkness, and the darkness fell 
away before them. 

But in Egypt the Greeks before the rise of the Persian 
Empire met with a civilization which could dispute with 
them on equal terms. The Hellenic nationality being 
in its infancy was awed by the venerable institutions 
and beliefs of the land of the Nile. Instead of im- 
parting to barbarians the rudiments of civil organization, 
the Greeks of Naucratis stood amazed in the presence 
of a society organized in the most inflexible way. In- 
stead of teaching strangers the use of letters, they 
found themselves wondering at scribes who had two or 
three quite different ways of writing, according to the 
occasion and the subject. Instead of being able to 
tempt the cupidity of the natives by a display of works 
of archaic Greek art, they had to admire vessels and 
textile fabrics, images and ornaments, designed with a 
skill which far surpassed their own, and showing a 
delicacy and pureness of style which roused their envy. 
Only in arms, elsewhere that in which they least ex- 
celled their barbarian neighbours, did the Greeks in 
Egypt surpass the natives of the country. Thus Nau- 
cratis might be compared to a tender plant growing in 
an uncongenial soil, and surrounded on all sides by 
hardier shrubs ever ready to encroach upon its narrow 
domain. When the fostering care of kings like Psammi- 
tichus and Amasis, was no longer exercised, the decay 
of the city set in slowly but surely. 

Meantime, while Naucratis flourished, it was as much 
an outlet for Egyptian as an inlet for Hellenic influ- 
ences. Many of the wisest men of Greece in the seventh 
and sixth centuries, if we may believe the traditions 

214 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vil. 

accepted by their countrymen, passed through the city 
into Egypt, and brought away treasures of knowledge. 
According to Diodorusj Solon borrowed several laws 
from Egypt, among others the law that every citizen 
should once a year set forth before magistrates the 
sources of his livelihood. Pythagoras travelled with 
letters of introduction from Amasis himself, and was 
supposed to have learned in Egypt not only the language 
of the country, a thing in those days reckoned as won- 
derful, but also the principles of his mystic philosophy. 
Thales of Miletus is said by Diogenes Laertius to have 
learned mathematics and astronomy in Egypt, and to 
have taught his countrymen what he had thus learned 
himself Hecataeus of Miletus, who perhaps deserves as 
much as Herodotus the title of " father of history," jour- 
neyed into Egypt, and told many tales of the country 
which remained among the common-places of Greek his- 
torical knowledge ever afterwards. No doubt when phi- 
losophy and science had grown in Greece to their full 
stature, they did not retain many marks of the swad- 
dling-bands of Egypt ; yet they may, as the ancients 
believed, have been very usefully aided in their infancy 
by those swaddling-bands. 

/ There is, however, another field— the field of art and 
manufacture — in which the recent excavations should 
enable us to judge with some accuracy of the extent of 
the debt of Hellas to Egypt. The products of Greek 
art from Naucratis consist chiefly of three classes of 
objects, scarabs, pottery, and statuettes. The scarabs 
come from the factory of which we have already spoken. 
Had they been found scattered over the Greek islands, 
or in Cyprus, they would have been at once taken for 
works of Phoenician craftsmen. For we do not usually 
think of the Greeks as making copies, barbarous copies, 
as archaeologists term them, of the products of other 

Chap. VII.] Naucratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 215 

peoples. But in that very early period the proud artistic 
consciousness of the Greeks had not developed, and they 
were not yet ashamed of making commodities which were 
in demand, even though the work of fashioning them 
was ignominious. And even in the common-place pro- 
ducts of this factory we find now and then a trace of 
Greek originality and skill in design. The pottery from 
the site belongs nearly all to the seventh and sixth cen- 
turies. The bulk of it belongs to the class so abundantly 
found in the tombs of Cameirus in Rhodes, on which are 
painted friezes and heraldic groups of animals or winged 
monsters, lions, sphinxes, and boars, water-birds, and 
domestic fowls. Here, again, we have much that is 
Oriental, little that is Greek, and the pottery of Cameirus 
was formerly supposed to be of Phoenician origin. In 
certain other vases, however, which resemble the class 
which has hitherto been attributed to Cyrene, we find 
human figures, and more of human interest. But the 
conspectus of the early pottery, which can be dated, it 
must be remembered, by the dedicatory inscriptions 
which it bears, proves that even late in the sixth 
century the pottery of the Greeks had not emerged 
from that merely decorative stage in which much regard 
was paid to colour and the harmonious filling of space, 
and but little to form and subject. The statuettes 
of Naucratis are seldom or never of purely Egyptian 
type ; rather they are of the mixed character which we 
observe in statues and statuettes from the island of 
Cyprus. They too are not beautiful, and show little 
of the great wave of artistic inventiveness which was at 
the time passing over Greece. 

When the military power of Persia became dominant 
in Egypt, the function of the Greek mercenaries was for 
a time gone, and their influence diminished. And it was 
by no means unlikely that Egypt, which had long 

2i6 New Chapters in Greek History, [Chap. Yii. 

been suffering from gradual exhaustion of the warrior 
caste, and long been used to respect foreign arms as 
irresistible, might have been content to accept Persian 
sway and pay tribute without a murmur, had the 
Persians been wise enough to spare the feelings and 
respect the institutions of the people. But this they did 
not do. They were usually very tolerant of the religions 
of those they conquered. Babylon and Asia Minor had 
little ground for accusing them of the fervid iconoclasm 
which some writers have supposed to be part of their 
policy. And in Egypt, at the first conquest of the 
country, they seem to have spared the political and re- 
ligious sensibilities of the people. We possess a record 
drawn up by an Egyptian, who narrated how he initi- 
ated Cambyses in the mysteries of Neith, and ob- 
tained of the king for the goddess special favours, and 
for himself the post of Court-physician. But afterwards, 
a sort of frenzy seems to have fallen on Cambyses. He 
is said not only to have dug up and ill-used the corpse 
of Amasis, who died during the Persian invasion, but' to 
have treated his family with insult and cruelty. From 
persecution of the kings of Egypt he passed to persecu- 
tion of the gods of the country. Every one knows the 
story told by Herodotus, how, when full of irritation 
at the news of the destruction of the troops he had sent 
against the Libyan Oasis, Cambyses was driven to mad- 
ness by the sound of joy and revelry in the streets of 
Memphis; and how, learning that the cause of the 
rejoicing was the instalment of a new Apis-bull, he sent 
for the newly made deity and plunged a knife into its 
side, so that it languished and died. It is notable that 
Wiedemann, who usually rejects stories of this kind, is 
willing to accept this tale, because he believes that he 
can identify among the tablets set up in honour of 
successive Apis-bulls in the Serapeum at Memphis, the 

Chap. VII.] Naucratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 217 

record of the animal slain by Cambyses, a record graven 
in haste and wanting in the usual formalities. We also 
learn that Cambyses wasted with fire and sword many 
of the temples of Egypt and carried off their treasures 
to Persia. 

In such deeds of impiety the Egyptian priests natu- 
rally found the cause of the madness which possessed 
Cambyses in his later years, and made him a terror to 
all about him. Herodotus is quite ready to accept the 
explanation. The conduct of Darius Hystaspis was very 
different from that of Cambyses ; he buried with great 
pomp an Apis-bull which died during his reign, and 
took great pains to find him a successor ; he built and 
restored many temples, endowed colleges of scribes which 
were impoverished, and is represented to us in tradition 
as maintaining an easy and friendly intercourse with the 
Egyptian priests. But there were few Persian rulers 
like Darius ; the Persian yoke was on the whole ex- 
tremely uncongenial to the dwellers by the Nile, and 
wounded all their most settled sentiments. It was not 
long before discontent broke into open revolt ; and 
during part of the fifth and most of the fourth cen- 
tury there were in Egypt native kings who enjoyed 
a degree of -independence, were indeed often quite inde- 
pendent. Egypt was not really reduced to a Persian 
province until B.C. 350, a few years before the conquest 
of the country by Alexander the Great. 

We do not propose to trace the obscure outlines of 
the history of Egypt during this period of revolt and 
struggle. But it is part of our task to sketch the 
course taken by events when the Greeks organized, as 
they did more than once, expeditions to aid the native 
Egyptian rulers in their efforts to be independent. Be- 
tween the invasion of Greece by Xerxes and the invasion 
of Persia by Alexander, there was a perpetual enmity. 

2 1 8 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vii. 

whether flaming or smouldering, between the Hellenic 
race and the over-lords of Asia ; and the ruling States 
in Greece were constantly on the alert to strike at any 
part of the Persian dominions which might seem open 
to attack. 

Soon after the accession of Artaxerxes to the Persian 
throne in B.C. 464, a revolt broke out in Egypt. The 
leader was not a native Egyptian but a Libyan, Inaros 
by name. Our surprise at this circumstance diminishes 
if we consider that for ages, from the fifteenth century 
onwards, Libyan or Mediterranean mercenaries had been 
a chief element in the armies of Egypt ; it was there- 
fore natural that the Egyptians in any attempt to ex- 
pel the Persians should call on their allies for help. 
They called also on the people of Athens, with whom 
the destruction of their city by Xerxes was a fresh 
memory, and they did not appeal in vain. There were 
two hundred Athenian triremes stationed at Cyprus 
ready for any service against Persia ; these were at once 
ordered to the Nile. They conquered the Delta and 
two thirds- of Memphis, hemming the Persian troops 
into the citadel called the White Fortress. Achaemenes, 
the Persian satrap, came with an army and fleet to the 
relief of his men ; but his army was defeated with 
great slaughter by Inaros, and his fleet by the Athenian 
triremes ; he himself was among the slain. But a new 
and enormous armament was dispatched from Persia 
under the command of Megabyzus, comprising, we are 
told, at least half a million of men. The Libyans and 
Athenians had to retire from Memphis, and took refuge 
in the island Prosopitis. For a year and a half their 
naval superiority enabled them to maintain themselves 
there ; then the Persians succeeded in turning aside the 
water from the branch of the Nile which enclosed the 
island. Inaros was captured and cruelly executed ; the 

Chap. VII.] Nauc7-atis, atid the Greeks in Egypt. 219 

Athenians capitulated, but were allowed to depart, and 
marched through Libya to Cyrene, leaving the ships to 
their conqueror. A reinforcement of fifty Athenian tri- 
remes, ascending the Mendesian arm of the Nile in 
ignorance of what had happened, was entrapped by the 
Persians and destroyed. 

The death of Inaros and the defeat of the Greeks did 
not at once bring the revolt to an end. Amyrtaeus, a 
native Egyptian, found means to carry on the struggle 
for some time longer. Cimon, then in command of the 
Athenian fleet near Cyprus, sent him sixty ships as an 
aid. But they accomplished nothing, and soon retired. 
That Amyrtaeus was able to make favourable terms for 
himself with the Persian king, appears from the state- 
ment of Herodotus, that the Persians allowed Pausiris 
son of Amyrtaeus to retain his father's dominion, though 
he probably retained it not as an independent sovereign, 
but as a vassal of Persia. 

A later revolt of Egypt about B.C. 415 was more 
successful ; and for sixty-four years that country main- 
tained a precarious independence under the 28th, 29th, 
and 30th dynasties. This was accomplished only by the 
aid of Greek mercenaries, who henceforward play the 
leading part in all wars on the shores of the Aegean. 
But to give a connected narrative of their doings in 
Egypt is very difficult, if not impossible. We lose the 
guidance of Thucydides, and have to choose between 
the discrepant accounts of writers like Diodorus, Plu- 
tarch, and Cornelius Nepos. The most abundant in- 
formation comes from the slovenly pen of Diodorus. 
Of late certain Egyptologists, more particularly Wiede- 
mann and Revillout, have tried to restore the reputation 
of this writer. They have succeeded in showing that 
his account of Egyptian law is based on good and 
native authorities ; but even Wiedemann does not pretend 

220 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vii. 

that his narratives of events are to be trusted. He con- 
fuses names and dates with the most exasperating care- 
lessness, and in repeating his account of civil and 
military events we cannot escape from the feeling that it 
is likely that what he is narrating never really happened. 
Unfortunately also at this period native records are 
scarce and meagre. The materials of history, therefore, 
scarcely exist. 

The native ruler who shook off the Persian yoke was 
Amyrtaeus, perhaps a grandson of the Amyrtaeus al- 
ready spoken of. He gained possession alike of Upper 
and Lower Egypt, and it seems from a casual reference 
in Thucydides (viii. 35), that he was a friend of the 
Athenians. That he won his throne through Greek 
mercenaries is more than probable, and when a papyrus 
informs us in regard to his successors that they owed 
their elevation to the soldiers, we may be almost sure 
that the nucleus of these soldiers was Greek. Of 
Achoris, who ruled at the beginning of the fourth 
century, we learn that he sent building-timber and corn 
to the Spartans for their wars, and that he concluded 
with the active and powerful Evagoras, king of Cyprus, 
a treaty against Persia, and sent fifty vessels to his aid 
in that final battle against the Great King, which put 
an end for ever to the chance of Cyprus' gaining a pro- 
minent place in the world's history. 

As to the wars and policy of the next King, Necta- 
nebus I., who came to the throne, according to Wiede- 
mann, in B.C. 387, we have ampler information. Evagoras 
having been put down, the Persians made great prepara- 
tions for the reduction of Egypt. Pharnabazus marched 
into the country with an army of 200,000 men, but even 
with forces so overwhelming he was disquieted by hear- 
ing that the Athenian Chabrias was in the Egyptian 
service. Sending to Athens, he procured the recall of 

Chap. VII.] Naucratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 221 

that officer, and even persuaded the Athenians to let 
him have the services of Iphicrates, who joined him with 
20,000 Greek mercenaries. Failing in an attempt on the 
Pelusian arm of the Nile, Pharnabazus and Iphicrates 
made good an entry into Egypt by the Mendesian arm. 
The land lay open to them, and Iphicrates counselled 
(we repeat the account of Diodorus) a prompt attack 
upon Memphis, which was not in a state of defence. 
But whether through jealousy or indecision, or through 
waiting for orders from the Persian court, Pharnabazus 
delayed to move until Nectanebus had had time to 
cover Memphis with his army, and the rising of the Nile 
so hampered the movements of the Persians that they 
were obliged to retire, and the invasion came to nothing. 
The reign of Nectanebus was dignified by visits paid 
to Egypt by noteworthy Greek savants ; Eudoxus, the 
astronomer, Chrysippus, the physician, and Plato, the 
philosopher. Letters of introduction from Agesilaus 
secured Eudoxus respectful attention at the Egyptian 
court. As regards one of the three, Plato, we may be 
sure that his imagination was not unmoved by the 
wonders of the land, and that there are passages in his 
writings which but for this visit would not have been 

The successor of Nectanebus, Tachos, being again 
threatened from Persia, applied for aid to the Spartans, and 
procured for himself, it is said through heavy bribes, the 
aid of the aged Agesilaus and a body of Lacedaemonian 
troops. Being thus fortunate, and having further secured 
the Athenian Chabrias as leader of his fleet, he felt em- 
boldened to undertake an offensive campaign. He rapidly 
made a conquest of Phoenicia; but during his absence 
a relation, Nectanebus II., revolted against him. The 
people of Egypt seem at once to have accepted the 
new pretender, but the question was what line would be 

222 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap, vil 

taken by Agesilaus and Chabrias. Agesilaus had already- 
been deeply wounded in his Spartan pride by Tachos, who 
had failed to understand that the coarse clothes and rude 
manners of the Spartan king were a sign not of humility, 
but of infinite pretension, and had ventured to slight 
him. He is said to have referred to Sparta the question 
which side he should take, and to have received in reply 
the answer that he should do whatever was for the 
advantage of Sparta. He left the party of Tachos and 
adopted that of Nectanebus ; Chabrias followed his ex- 
ample ; and Tachos' Egyptian troops not venturing to 
retain their loyalty, he fled to the Persian court, where 
he was received as a useful ally. 

We hear next of a fresh Persian invasion of Egypt, 
which was repulsed by two Greek leaders of mercenaries, 
Diophantes of Athens and Lamius of Sparta. But a 
subsequent expedition, which took place in the reign of 
Artaxerxes Ochus about B.C. 350, was more successful. 
The manner of its success is very characteristic of the 
times. The Persian army of invasion was accompanied 
by a large body of Greek troops under Nicostratus and 
Mentor of Rhodes. Nectanebus marched against it, ac- 
companied by 20,000 Greek troops under Cleinias of Cos. 
On the frontier the two bodies of mercenary troops came 
into collison, and Cleinias was defeated. The disaster 
was irreparable ; Nectanebus fled to the south, and the 
cities of Egypt surrendered without further struggle. 
The Persian King Ochus visited Egypt, and is said to 
have repeated all the cruelties and enormities of Cam- 
byses, down to the slaying of the Apis-bull ; though it 
may perhaps be doubted whether the fact is that Ochus 
copied Cambyses, or merely that Plutarch and other late 
writers who record these deeds copy Herodotus. In any 
case this was the end of Egyptian independence, and the 
historian must allow that the end was due. A nation 

Chap. VII.] Naticratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 223 

that could allow its national existence to depend on the 
victory or defeat of one body of foreign mercenaries by 
another, can scarcely claim our pity when it fell. Egypt 
had still a history before it ; but it was a history not 
concerned with conquest or war, but with science and 
poetry, religion and philosophy. But before the first 
page of that later history could be opened, it was neces- 
sary that Greek influence should affect far more deeply 
the national life. Hitherto Greeks had been only the 
defenders and mercenaries of Egypt ; it was necessary 
that they should become her masters ; and not masters 
only of her political organization, but also of her learning, 
her science, her religion, and her art. 

Persian authority had scarcely been re-established in 
Egypt when Persia in turn succumbed to a new and 
mighty foe. Alexander the Great having welded into 
one force the wisdom of Greece and the hardy strength 
of Macedonia, brought that force to bear with irresistible 
energy on the languid and overgrown empire of Asia, and 
it crumbled at once to pieces. In no country was the 
victory of Alexander more rapid or more easy than in 
Egypt. City after city opened its gates on his approach ; 
and the throne of the Pharaohs cost him scarcely the life 
of a spearman. Of course to forces and talents such as 
those of which Alexander disposed, Egypt could under 
any circumstances have made but a weak resistance. But 
there is reason to believe that she did not care to resist. 
Sabaces, the Persian satrap of the country, had fallen at 
Issus, and the Persian garrison was withdrawn to meet 
the nearer needs of the Empire. The Egyptians had no 
motive for resisting Alexander on behalf of their foreign 
masters, and they were too weak and dispirited to oppose 
him in the interests of their independence. Rather they 
were inclined to welcome him as a liberator, as a hero 
belonging to another and more tolerant race than the 

224 iV^w Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. Vli. 

lords whom they were used to obey. Alexander offered 
sacrifices to the national deities, and amused the people 
with warlike pomp and agonistic festivals. The Egyp- 
tian priests were i^eady with a fiction to make submission 
in some sense a duty. Nectanebus II. had disappeared 
at the time of the Persian reconquest ; the priests gave 
out that he had made his way to Macedon, and there, 
through the use of magic arts, become the father of 
Alexander. The story was an invention, as obviously 
false as the earlier fable which had made Cambyses 
son of an Egyptian princess ; in both cases the motive 
was the same, and in both cases the story fulfilled its 

Escorted by his troops, Alexander sailed from Memphis 
by the Canobic branch of the Nile ; he landed at Racotis. 
Here was the place where Homer represents the imaginary 
raid of Odysseus into Egypt as having taken place, in a 
poem which Alexander knew by heart. He at once made 
up his mind to build there a great city to bear his name, 
and to be a memorial of him for ever ; and thus the 
greatest of all the Alexandrias came into being. Hence 
he visited the oasis of Ammon, led to the spot, when 
the way was lost in the sand, by two serpents ; and found 
in that deity a third claimant to the honour of having 
begotten him. 

As Alexandria grew, Naucratis declined. In the 
troubled times of Nectanebus, the city had rather 
shrunk than increased, and had suffered from some 
hostile violence, of which traces still remain. Despite 
the efforts of Ptolemy Philadelphus to restore the place, 
it never again flourished. A fragmentary papyrus proves 
that it retained under the Greek kings its municipal 
organization, under magistrates called ti[ji,ov-)(oi, remain- 
ing a free Greek community. About the third century 
of our era, after giving a home to some notable men of 

Chap. VII.] Naucratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 225 

letters, — Philistus, Proclus, Athenaeus and Julius Pollux 
— Naucratis ceased to exist. Since then the site, one of 
the coolest, healthiest, and pleasantest in Egypt, has been 
tenanted by none but scattered Copts and companies of 
agricultural Arabs. 

Egypt was indeed fortunate in being assigned, when 
Alexander's flimsy empire fell to pieces, to Ptolemy, son 
of Lagus, the gentlest and wisest of the Macedonian 
generals, a man who understood, while bringing fresh 
life into the administration, the religion, and the social 
condition of Egypt, how to avoid shocking the sensibilities 
of the conservative people of the land. 

In religion, we find under the Ptolemaic kings a process 
of syncretism. The resemblance, which had not escaped 
Herodotus, of the worship of Isis to that of the Greek 
Demeter, made it easy that she should retain her place 
at the head of the pantheon of Egypt. But her consort 
Osiris gradually recedes into the background before a 
new deity, Sarapis, whose worship was introduced into 
the country by Ptolemy in consequence of a dream. 
Sarapis took his place beside Isis, and the other Egyptian 
gods, Anubis, Harpocrates and the like, sank into mere 
satellites of the supreme pair, into whose worship more 
and more of symbolism and of mysticism entered, until 
the Egyptian religion seemed to the pagans of the third 
century of our era no unworthy rival of Christianity. But 
the state religion of Egypt in Hellenistic times was less 
the cult of Isis and Sarapis than that of the kingly race. 
According to the tales of the priests, all the gods of 
Egypt, from Osiris downwards, had been originally suc- 
cessive kings of the country ; it was therefore not difficult, 
especially since the Libyan Ammon guaranteed Alex- 
ander's divine parentage, to raise him also from the rank 
of king to that of god. The worship of the Macedonian 
hero and his Greek successors became the central worship 


226 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. VII. 

of Egypt, and not only united Macedonian, Greek, and 
Egyptian in a common litany, but served to give religious 
sanction to the power of the reigning dynasty. 

As kings, the Ptolemies stepped into the customs and 
the honours of the Pharaohs. This was natural, since 
among the Greeks there was no precedent for such relations 
as existed in the East between sovereigns and subjects. 
Alexander did indeed for a short time assume the posi- 
tion of a Persian king of kings, and in some part of the 
station which he thus claimed most of his successors tried 
to imitate him. But probably the precedents of the 
Persian court had less effect in Egypt than in Syria or 
even Macedon. Of course the relation of the king to 
his Greek subjects and to his Egyptian subjects would 
not be the same. To the former he would be a country- 
man in high station ; to the latter an earthly god. From 
the facts of archaeology we may illustrate this distinc- 
tion. When on the walls of an Egyptian temple one of 
the Ptolemaic dynasty is depicted as engaged in reli- 
gious or political observance, he is represented, as were 
the older monarchs of the land, in Egyptian dress, in 
conventional attitude, with the inexpressive features of an 
abstraction, not of a person. When on their silver coins, 
struck for the use of Greek commerce, the portraits of 
the Ptolemies appear, they appear as men, idealized 
indeed to some degree, but still as men, liable to the 
accidents and diseases of humanity. On the bronze coins 
struck under Ptolemaic rule, mostly for the use of the 
Egyptians themselves, we have usually no portrait at 
all, but the efiSgy of a deity. 

Something, however, was changed even -in the govern- 
ment of the native Egyptian population. Writers on 
the Ptolemaic constitution of Egypt attach great im- 
portance to the establishment of Boards of Judges who 
moved in circuit into the different districts of Egypt. 

ChjU". VII.] Naucratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 227 

Hitherto the Courts of Justice had had their fixed seats 
in the great cities ; and the peasantry being, like all 
peasant cultivators, very litigious, had flocked into the 
towns with their causes, and waited for long periods 
until they could be attended to. We are told that the 
result was that much of the fertile land of Egypt 
remained for considerable periods untilled. Instead of 
abolishing the local courts, the Ptolemaic kings strove 
in some degree to supersede them by providing Boards 
of Chrematistae, who moved among the people, invested 
directly by the King with a portion of his authority, and 
responsible to him alone. Thus cheaper and speedier 
justice was made accessible to the peasantry. But in 
Ptolemaic as in Pharaonic Egypt, the King was prac- 
tically an autocrat, whose rescripts were law, and whose 
officers held power not a moment longer than they 
retained his favour. In Ptolemaic as in Pharaonic Egypt, 
the nome or district was the unit of government ; pro- 
bably the hierarchy of oiificials in the nome was not 
much altered. 

But although the political constitution of Egypt was 
not greatly altered when the land fell into Greek hands, 
yet in other respects great changes took place. The 
mere fact that Egypt took its place among a family 
of Hellenistic nations, instead of claiming as of old a 
proud isolation, must have had a great effect on the 
trade, the manufactures, and the customs of the country. 
To begin with trade. Under the native kings Egypt had 
scarcely any external trade, and trade could scarcely 
spring up during the wars with Persia. But under the 
Ptolemies, intercourse between Egypt and Sicily, Syria or 
Greece, would naturally and necessarily advance rapidly. 
Egypt produced manufactured goods which were every- 
where in demand; fine linen, ivory, porcelain, notably 
that papyrus which Egypt alone produced, and which 

Q 2 

228 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vii. 

was necessary to the growing trade in manuscripts. 
Artificial barriers being once removed, enterprising traders 
of Corinth and Tarentum, ■ Ephesus and Rhodes, would 
naturally seek these goods in Egypt, bringing in return 
whatever of most attractive their own countries had to 
offer. It seems probable that the subjects of the Ptole- 
mies seldom or never had the courage to sail direct down 
the Red Sea to India. In Roman times this voyage 
became not unusual, but at an earlier time the Indian 
trade was principally in the hands of the Arabs of 
Yemen and of the Persian Gulf Nevertheless the com- 
merce of Egypt under the Ptolemies spread eastwards 
as well as westwards. The important towns of Arsinoe 
and Berenice arose on the Red Sea as emporia of the 
Arabian trade. And as always happens when Egypt 
is in vigorous hands, the limits of Egyptian rule and 
commerce were pushed further and further up the Nile. 
The influx into Alexandria and Memphis of a crowd 
of Greek architects, artists, and artizans, could not fail to 
produce movement in that stream of art which had in 
Egypt long remained all but stagnant. A wealthy Greek 
court and self-indulgent Greek satraps had to be supplied 
with articles of luxury which would not offend them by 
hieratic stiffness or bear the impress of a religion which 
they half despised. That the Egyptians responded to 
the demand we know ; the best proof is to be found in 
reading the extraordinary account in Athenaeus of the 
pomp of Ptolemy Philadelphus. We there not merely 
read of a display of wealth such as was perhaps never 
rivalled, of mountains of gold and silver, but also find 
precious indications of a new departure in Greek art, 
which seems on that occasion to have borrowed some- 
thing from the abstract tendencies of Egyptian thought 
There were statues not merely of gods and kings, but of a 
multitude of cities, and even personifications of qualities 

Chap. VII.] Nattcratis, and the Greeks in Egypt. 229 

such as Aret^, Valour, and of spaces of time such as the 
Year and Penteteris. Such abstractions are not to be 
found in Greek art in its best period, nor are they in the 
spirit of Greek art at all ; but they mark the new age and 
the progressive amalgamation of Greek and Egyptian 
nationalities and ideas under the just and benign rule of 
the earlier Ptolemies. 

If we may trust the somewhat over-coloured and flighty 
panegyrics which have come down to us, the material 
progress of Egypt under Ptolemy Philadelphus was most 
wonderful. We read, though we cannot for a moment 
trust the figures of Appian, that in his reign Egypt 
possessed an army of 200,000 foot soldiers and 40,000 
horsemen, 300 elephants and 2000 chariots of war. The 
fleet at the same period is said to have included 1500 
large vessels, some of them with twenty or thirty banks 
of oars. Allowing for exaggeration, we must suppose 
that Egypt was then more powerful than it had been 
since the days of Rameses. The enormous wealth of 
Philadelphus would enable him to secure the services of 
a large number of those wandering mercenaries, troops 
from Crete and Thessaly, Peloponnesus and Caria, Libya 
and Galatia, who mainly made up the armies of the 
Hellenistic kings ; and who, if they were well paid, seem 
to have been fairly faithful. The number of towns in 
Egypt under the early Ptolemies is given by some 
writers as over 30,000. 

But far more noble, and far more durable in its effects 
than any mere material expansion, was the rise at Alexan- 
dria of a great literary and scientific school. Among 
the scholiasts on the great poets and prose-writers 
of Greece there was no doubt much pedantry, but a lite- 
rature which was adorned by the writings of Theo- 
critus, and Bion, and Callimachus, cannot be despised. 
And to our day most children are trained to mental 

230 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. VU. 

accuracy by the writings of an Alexandrian professor of 
mathematics, Euclid. A large part of the thoughts which 
dominate the world's views in philosophy, religion, and 
science, saw the light first in Alexandria. But if it were 
our intention to do justice to the glories of that illustrious 
city, it would claim not the last page of a chapter but a 

We have introduced the Greeks as they made their 
first appearance in Egypt as mail-clad warriors from over 
the sea, and we have followed their career until from 
being the hired protectors of the Egyptians, they became 
their masters. The later relations between Egypt on the 
one side, and Syria, Athens, and Rome on the other, 
would form a subject not less interesting, but beyond our 
compass. Egypt, with Alexandria as its capital, plays 
a great part in the drama of history ; Egypt, with 
Naucratis as its link with the outer world, was compara- 
tively recluse. It is therefore the more welcome when 
excavation helps us to clear away some of the mist 
which envelopes the earliest of the Greek settlements 
in Egypt, and enables us more clearly to understand 
under what conditions it existed and what were its 
relations to Greece and to Egypt. 

( 231 ) 



It is only by slow degrees that the modern world has 
learned how much is left of ancient Athens. To the 
great scholars of the Renaissance, Athens was a name in 
history but not in geography, a vanished city like Baby- 
lon and Jerusalem. From the days when Ciriaco of 
Ancona, in 1447, first brought it to the knowledge of the 
learned world that though the jewels were gone, valuable 
fragments of the casket still remained, down to the 
present year, archaeological research has pressed closer 
and closer at Athens on the heels of the ravages of time 
and barbarism, until it may fairly be said that as Athens 
is almost the most interesting of ancient cities, so the 
remains which it has left us are more extensive and 
suggestive than those of any other place, with the possible 
exception of Rome. And this is only natural. Jerusalem 
has left an invisible record in the spiritual life of man- 
kind ; but the genius of the Athenians was pre-eminently 
plastic. What they thought and felt they worked out 
in their exquisite native marble, and the rocky soil and 
dry air of Attica have preserved at least some remains 
of their admirable creations through the political vicissi- 
tudes of twenty-five centuries. 

The modern Athenians are possessed by a curious 
passion, intelligible but quite unhistorical. They are de- 
termined to obliterate so far as they can the whole tract 

232 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vill. 

of history which lies between the Roman Conquest and 
King George. Every year brings the spoken language of 
educated circles in Athens nearer to the language of 
Demosthenes. The children receive high-sounding names 
like Miltiades and Sophocles, and read in the elementary 
schools the great masterpieces of Hellenic literature. 
Cities and districts lose their mediaeval and go back to 
their classical names. The Panathenaic festival has been 
brought to life, and Christian churches are demolished in 
order that the remains of pagan temples may be disin- 
terred from their walls and foundations. Whether the 
modern Hellenes are quite wise in taking up a past to 
the burden of which they are scarcely equal, and forgetting 
a more recent past with its many useful lessons, may be 
doubted. In any case, it is in this spirit that they have 
dealt with the Athenian Acropolis. That they should 
clear away the mosque which occupied the interior of 
the Parthenon when it fell into their hands after Nava- 
rino, as well as the Turkish battery, and later the ugly 
tower which commanded the entrance to the Acropolis, is 
not matter for wonder. It was a less happy impulse 
which made them destroy the bastion erected by their 
own Captain Odysseus in the War of Independence, and 
which led them in 1834 to set up in their places some 
of the columns of the Parthenon which had' fallen, and 
quite recently to range the drums of fallen columns in 
formal order at the sides of the building. But since we 
are now promised that the Christian frescoes on the walls 
of the Parthenon shall be spared, and since the founda- 
tions of even Roman buildings are respected, we must 
not unduly complain, especially seeing that nothing but 
praise can be awarded to the zeal and method with which 
the extensive excavations of the last five years have been 

It is chiefly with the results of these recent excavations, 

Chap. VIII.] The Excavation of the Athenian Acropolis. 233 

conducted by the Greek Archaeological Society, that we 
propose to deal in the present chapter. They are of 
extraordinary richness and interest ; and although reports 
of them have appeared from time to time in the columns 
of the Athenaeum, and in the pages of the Journal of 
Hellenic Studies, they have not been fairly brought 
before the notice of those, in England so numerous a 
class, whose interest in Greece and Greek art is general 
rather than special. To help our readers we copy, in 
the annexed woodcut, a plan of the Acropolis due to 
Messrs. Penrose and Schultz, and published in the 
Journal of Hellenic Sttidies for 1889. For permission to 
use it our thanks are due to the Council of the Hellenic 

If this plan be compared with that published in 
1885 in Baumeister's Denkmaeler or that in Baedeker's 
Greece, it will be seen how much progress has lately 
been made in the topography of the site. But the pro- 
gress is not due only to the excavations ; in great part 
it is the work of Dr. Doerpfeld, Head of the German 
School of Athens, a man whose patience, science, and 
enthusiasm are all alike remarkable ; a man who has 
shed upon all the sites where he has worked a flood of 
new light, and who possesses in a rare degree the power of 
interesting and convincing others. 

There are two recent works on the Athenian Acropolis. 
Dr. Boetticher's* is a readable and useful resume of the 
views generally accepted at the time of his writing, 
illustrated by abundant engravings. Unfortunately it 
was written a little too soon ; and the writer is more 
at home in dealing with the problems of architecture 
than with those of sculpture, epigraphy, or topography. 
The l?ook of Miss Harrison and Mrs. Verrall,t two dis- 

* Die Akropolis von Athen. 

t Mythology and Monuments of Ancient Athens. 


New Chapters in Greek History, [Chap. viir. 

Chap. VIII.] The Excavation of the Athenian Acropolis. 235 

tinguished quasi-graduates of Newnham College, is of a 
far more important and thorough-going character ; we 
should rather say Miss Harrison's book, for Mrs. Verrall 
has contributed only a good translation of some chapters 
of Pausanias, and the work bears throughout the stamp 
of a strong individuality. It is probably the best 
Guide to the Acropolis, and ancient Athens generally, 
which has yet appeared. Miss Harrison is a devoted 
adherent of Dr. Doerpfeld, who has allowed her, with the 
generosity common among the best sort of savants, to 
anticipate many of his unpublished views. His enthusi- 
asm is contagious ; and readers will be surprised to find 
that it is possible to extract from discussions on topo- 
graphy and Attic myths much that is interesting and 
almost overflowing with actuality. The book leads us 
from point to point in the midst of the temples, the 
dedications, the mythology, the cultus of the ancient 
Athenians, until they become astonishingly familiar to us. 
We learn all about the plans of Mnesicles when he began 
the Propylaea, and why those plans were not carried out ; 
we trace the steps by which the stage of the Dionysiac 
Theatre gradually encroached on the orchestra, following 
the altering character of dramatic representations ; we 
visit the grotto of Pan, and sympathize with the herds- 
man-god, who finds himself sadly out of place among 
the cultivated and metaphysical Athenians; we trace 
from point to point the wanderings of the traveller 
Pausanias, and often get the true clue to his puzzling 
utterances and his more puzzling silences. 

In regard to Pausanias, we are glad to see that Miss 
Harrison does not endorse the theories of some rather 
too advanced scholars in Germany, who maintain that 
.Pausanias was no traveller at all, but a redactor of old 
guide-books and collector of queer stories. She writes : — 

"I feel bound to record my own conviction that the 

236 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ?iii. 

narrative of Pausanias is no instance of ' Reise Ro- 
mantik,' but the careful, conscientious, and in some parts 
amusing and quite original narrative of a honci fide 
traveller. If Pausanias did read his Polemon before he 
started, and when he got back to his study in Asia 
Minor posted up his notes by the help of the last 
mythological handbook, what educated man would do 
less ? ... In the face of recent excavations, which every- 
where, save in the most trivial details, confirm the nar- 
rative of Pausanias, such criticism proves nothing but that 
there is a vast amount of energy and learned ingenuity 
out of work." 

No test could be more severe than that to which Miss 
Harrison submits the narrative of Pausanias ; if it en- 
dures that test, we may fairly be content to trust it when 
there is no special reason for mistrust. 

To these special works we have to add the less de- 
tailed, but not less interesting Stadtgeschichte von Athen 
by the Nestor of Greek archaeology, Professor Ernst 
Curtius, who writes of Athens at once with the ardour of 
a lover, the science of a historian, and the imagination 
of a poet. His book treats of the whole ancient history 
of Athens, and his longer experience and wider knowledge 
serve in some cases to correct the revolutionary views of 
Dr. Doerpfeld. 

The Acropolis, with its levelled top surrounded by 
lofty walls, approached through magnificent Propylaea, 
and loaded with ancient temples and monuments, evi- 
dently owes at least as much to art as to nature. It 
has long been known that its present form and aspect 
dates from the age of Cimon and of Pericles. The 
recent excavations have thrown light on all ages of 
Athenian history, but they are specially notable for 
having opened up to us the stages through which the 
whole Acropolis passed before it reached what may be 

Chap. VIII.] The Excavation of the Athenian Acropolis. 237 

called its classical form. Hitherto it has risen as abruptly 
from the background of history as from the level soil of 
the Attic plain. But now we can trace step by step its 
formation out of an irregular rocky mass, sloping on at 
least two sides gradually to the ground below, and sur- 
mounted only by the poor huts of a prehistoric race, whom 
the later Greeks called by the vague name of Pelasgi. 

The nucleus of almost all the celebrated centres of 
civic life in Greece was a rocky eminence rising out of 
a river-valley. Such a rock was a natural fortress, and 
afforded shelter to a sparse population of shepherds 
and fishermen in the early times of Greece, when, as 
Herodotus and Thucydides tell us, every man's life was 
in his hands, and no coast free from the constant in- 
cursions of pirates. Under such outward pressure the 
village life of primitive barbarians began to crystallize 
into civic order. On some parts of the Acropolis-rock 
one may still trace, though not so clearly as on the 
neighbouring Areiopagus, the foundations of the huts or 
cells of the early inhabitants. Recently a few graves 
dating from the same age have been discovered. They 
contain, besides human bones, only 4 few rude terra- 
cotta figures, and fragments of the primitive pottery 
known to archaeologists as Mycenaean, because it is found 
in greatest abundance on the site of Mycenae. 

It is evident that in very early times efforts were made 
to strengthen the Acropolis with walls, especially on the 
western side where it is most easily accessible. Of such 
early walls there are considerable remains close to the 
Propylaea of Pericles. Some archaeologists have tried to 
trace the lines of a far more complete system of forti- 
fication, running round the foot of the Acropolis and 
enclosing a small part of the surrounding plain. This 
view, which is however based on no great amount of 
existing remains, would help to account for the fact that 

238 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vm. 

a strip of land at the foot of the rock was in Greek 
historical times known as the Pelasgicum and kept, for 
traditional religious reasons, free of buildings. In the 
recent excavations, there have been found near the later 
Erechtheum traces of the foundations of a prehistoric 
palace, which Dr. Doerpfeld supposes to have been the 
abode of the kings who traced their lineage to Erechtheus, 
as well as of a rocky staircase leading thence to the lower 
ground, just as does the staircase at Tiryns, which de- 
scends to the plain from the palace of the rulers of that 
early city. 

That the kings of Athens in the heroic age had their 
palace on the Acropolis may be regarded as certain, 
though it is possible that its site is covered by the 
Parthenon. What that palace would be like we may 
judge from the remarkable discovery at Tiryns of re- 
mains of the palace of the Greek heroic age, of which 
we have already spoken. They record a civilization 
luxurious if not lofty, and an age when wealthy and 
noble families dispersed over Greece disposed of the 
resources of the country, and ruled over masses of sub- 
ject vassals, whose huts clustered about their lofty abodes. 
When, early in the sixth century, Peisistratus seized on 
the Government of Athens, he, like the early kings, took 
up his abode on the Acropolis. But by this time the 
change had begun which at Athens, as in most Greek 
cities, transformed the Acropolis from an abode of men 
into a dwelling-place of the gods. There already existed 
a large temple of Athena in the very midst of the Acro- 
polis, of which the foundations have in the last few years 
been traced by Dr. Doerpfeld. Mr. Penrose maintains, 
in a paper recently read before the Hellenic Society, 
that Peisistratus also erected an older Parthenon, on the 
site on which the present Parthenon stands, and that 
various still remaining achitectural fragments which Dr. 

Chap. VIII.] The Excavation of the Athenian Acropolis. 239 

Doerpfeld had given to the temple of his own discovery 
really belonged to this building. It is at all events 
proved by inscriptions published by Dr. Lolling* that 
a temple called the Hecatompedon existed at Athens 
before the Persian conquest, and it seems more natural 
to apply this term to an earlier Parthenon than with 
Doerpfeld and Curtius to the midmost temple of Athena. 
Peisistratus was content to share the plateau with the 
goddess to whom he owed his elevation and success. 

Considerable remains of the Acropolis and its monu- 
ments as they existed in the time of the Peisistratidae 
have been preserved to us as a consequence of the havoc 
wrought by the Persians when they were in possession 
of Athens in B.C. 480 and 479. As, however, this state- 
ment has the air of a paradox, we must try to prove 
that it is true. 

Herodotus tells us (vill. 51), how in B.C. 480 the 
numberless host of Xerxes came down upon Athens, 
and how the Athenian people fled upon their ships to 
the opposite island of Salamis, except a few who, reading 
literally the oracle which bade the Athenians trust to 
their wooden walls, barricaded the approaches to the 
Acropolis with beams and planks, and so awaited the 
foe. To the Persians when they arrived they offered a 
desperate resistance, but some of the mountaineers in the 
invading army climbed up the steep rock to the sanc- 
tuary of Aglauros on the north of the Acropolis, and 
thence mounted the narrow staircase which led thither 
from the summit (see plan). The defenders were put 
to the sword, or flung themselves in despair down the 
precipices, and the Persian soldiery completed their work 
by breaking down and destroying the monuments on the 
sacred site, and burning the buildings. The destruction 
was a deed of warlike fury, not of religious iconoclasm. 
* Athena iox 1890. 

240 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. viii. 

It was formerly supposed that the Persians, and especially 
their kings, were actuated by a hatred of idolatry, and a 
zeal for more spiritual religion in their dealings with con- 
quered nations. But the records of Egypt show us that 
in that country the Persian invaders displayed an easy 
tolerance towards Egyptian cultus. So it was at Athens. 
On the day after the temples had been burned Xerxes 
ordered the Athenian exiles who were in his camp to go 
up to the Acropolis and sacrifice to Athena after their 
own fashion. It is said that they found a portent, 
which showed that the humiliation of Athens would not 
be lasting. The sacred olive-tree of Athena, instead of 
withering from the flames, had in one night sent out a 
fresh shoot a cubit in length. 

After the glorious victory of the Greeks at Salamis. 
the Persian troops retired for the winter into Boeotia, 
and the Athenians could for a few months revisit their 
home. But in the spring of 479, Mardonius once more 
occupied the ruined city, and Herodotus says that when 
he left it to meet the Spartans at Plataea, he once more 
burned all that could be burned, and levelled with the 
ground whatever still remained standing, walls, houses, 
temples and statues. The destruction was as complete 
as barbarous fury could make it. When the people of 
Athens came back to their city, they found only an un- 
distinguishable heap of ruins, blackened with fire and 
shattered by hammers. 

But the days which followed the repulse of the Persians 
were in all Greece days of vigour and progress, of 
youthful hopes and unbounded aspirations. It was not 
likely that the Athenians, who had hurled back the 
whole strength of Asia, would sit long idle in the midst 
of ruins. And it was not likely, at a time when art 
was growing and expanding every day, that they would 
be content to restore the buildings and monuments of 

Chap, vm.] The Excavation of the Athenian Acropolis. 241 

the Acropolis to the state in which they had been before 
the coming of Xerxes. When art is stagnant or dead, 
nations care greatly to preserve the monuments handed 
down to them by previous generations. When art is 
alive and growing, destruction is sometimes almost wel- 
comed as an opportunity for progress, and the feeling of 
Homer's Diomedes, "We are far better than our fathers," 
governs the energies of architect, sculptor, and painter. 
So the Athenians proceeded to make new temples larger 
than the old, to set up more beautiful statues, to establish 
more splendid cults. The marble fragments with which 
the surface of the Acropolis was covered, they used only 
as materials for walls or foundations for buildings. They 
were straightway buried out of sight ; and buried they 
remained until the excavations of the last three years. 
Yet the Athenians seem to have made some distinctions. 
Pausanias speaks in one place of ancient images of 
Athena blackened by Persian smoke, but still holding 
their places of honour. Thus it would seem that some 
of the images of the gods, sacred from long association, 
were repaired and set up again. But almost all that 
had not so strong religious sanction was condemned. 
Votive portraits of men and women, dedications bearing 
the names of wealthy citizens, even the sculptural 
decorations of temples, were thrown aside as no longer 
worthy of a place in the Athens which was to be. 

The story of the building of the walls of the lower 
city by Themistocles is well known. In constant fear 
of Spartan interruption, men, women, and children toiled 
incessantly at the work, and for material not only the 
walls of private houses were demolished, but also in- 
scribed stones and sepulchral monuments were broken 
up and used ; in fact, from the wall of Themistocles we 
have in recent years recovered inscriptions and frag- 
ments of tombs of an early period ; the slab, for 


242 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. VIH. 

instance, on which is sculptured the head of a youth 
holding a discus. But it would be a mistake to suppose 
that the walls of the upper city or Acropolis were thus 
hastily piled together. They show, on the other hand, 
every mark of care, and are admirably constructed. In 
places, it is true, we find, instead of squared stones from 
the quarry, the remains of pillar and cornice taken from 
the ruined temples lying near ; but it is likely that this 
break in the order of the walls was the result not of 
haste or parsimony, but of deliberate intention. Pausanias 
tells us that some of the Greeks were anxious to leave 
all the ruins on the Acropolis lying as they stood for 
an eternal memorial of the hate due to the Persians. 
This could not be done ; but it was found possible to 
retain and to embody in the walls of the citadel a me- 
morial of the ruin wrought by the barbarians sufficient 
to act as a perpetual reminder. 

According to Dr. Doerpfeld it is to Cimon that we 
must ascribe the reduction of the Acropolis to its present 
form. The wall on the north has been ascribed by the 
excellent authority of Leake to Themistocles ; but Pau- 
sanias says expressly that all the walls of the Acropolis 
which did not date from the Pelasgic age were erected 
by Cimon. Of the method of formation of the surface 
of the Acropolis after the Persian invasion, we must 
endeavour to give some account. 

The natural rock which is its foundation is not flat 
above, but rises in the midst somewhat like a gable 
roof. Let us pursue this analogy a little further. Let 
us suppose a house with gable roof, of which the ridge 
runs parallel to the front and back walls of the house. 
Then it is evident that if the two walls of the house are 
carried up to the level of the ridge, and the two tri- 
angular spaces between ridge and walls filled up, a flat 
roof will be the result. This was the plan followed by 

Chap. "Vinj The Excavation of the Athenian Acropolis. 243 

the Athenian architects. They built their solid walls on 
the line where the abrupt rise of the rock ceased, and as 
the walls rose they filled the space between them and 
the highest ridge with layer above layer of earth and 
stones until they produced a surface, not indeed mathe- 
matically level, but level enough to serve as a foundation 
for the noble temples and beautiful monuments with 
which the piety of the Athenians designed to reward 
the gods who had rolled back the tide of Persian in- 
vasion, and made Athens free and glorious. 

It is these spaces behind the walls which have been 
thoroughly searched in the last five years. And as they 
were filled to a great degree with the ruined walls and 
inscriptions and statues left scattered on the site when 
the Persians departed, it may easily be understood that 
a rich harvest has been reaped of works of historical and 
artistic interest belonging to the age of Peisistratus 
and the time which followed down to B.C. 480. In the 
neighbourhood of the Erechtheum ancient sculptures 
lay crowded together ; at one spot fourteen statues were 
found, representing in various styles of art a goddess or 
her votaries. 

Seldom has a more admirable opportunity been offered 
to archaeologists than this. An endless series of statues, 
of fragments of pediments, of bases, of inscriptions, of 
shards of vases, is laid before them, and they may be 
quite sure that all belong to a period of which the limit 
in time is sharply defined. A hundred questions as to 
the meaning, the school, the historical bearing of each 
monument are suggested, and beyond these questions 
lies the grand problem of recovering the whole artistic 
and mythologic surroundings of the sixth century at 
Athens. And the very men most fitted to use the 
opportunity are on the spot. Besides the members of 
the Greek Archaeological Society there are now con- 
is. 2 

244 iV^zw Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. yiii. 

centrated in Athens, in the German, French, English, 
and American Schools, the most promising young 
archaeologists of many countries. It cannot be denied 
that the lead in all archaeological matters belongs to 
the Germans. But we must remember that the British 
School at Athens has been but quite recently estab- 
lished, and suffers from poverty unknown to the other 
Schools, which can rely on Government support. 

We now know with certainty that in the Peisistratid 
age a temple of Athena stood between the sites of the 
later Parthenon and the later Erechtheum. In size it 
does not approach the Parthenon, from which temple it 
also differs in ground-plan (see p. 234), inasmuch as 
behind the cella of the goddess we find traces of two 
rooms, which would seem to have been used as treasure- 
chambers. Perhaps they may have contained respec- 
tively the treasures of Athena and those of the other 
gods, which are in the later inscriptions kept apart, and 
which were guarded by different Boards of Treasurers. 
Dr. Doerpfeld has attempted the reconstruction of this 
temple from data still existing. Nothing but the bare 
foundations remain on the spot ; but in virtue of a series 
of elaborate measurements he claims some fragments 
built into the neighbouring Acropolis walls as belonging 
to the building, and not only tells us the number of 
pillars, their size and character, but even ventures to 
assure us that whereas the body of the temple is of 
very early date, the stylobate was added in the time 
of Peisistratus. Mr. Penrose, however, claims these same 
remains for the earlier Parthenon, and has many reasons in 
favour of his view. The talent and patience of a younger 
archaeologist. Dr. Studniczka, has recovered from the 
masses of remains some fragments of a group which 
may have adorned the pediment of one or other of 
these temples. This discovery offers so good an in- 

Chap. VIII.] The Excavation of the Athenian Acropolis. 245 

stance of the application of archaeological method that 
we must give a more detailed account of it. 

An archaic helmeted head of Athena of sixth-century 
work was found many years ago on the Acropolis, and 
is well-known from casts (at South Kensington, Oxford, 
and Cambridge) and from engravings in the histories of 
sculpture. To this head Studniczka joined an almost 
shapeless fragment of more recent discovery, which turns 
out to be the shoulder of the goddess covered with the 
aegis, on the edges of which were ranged snakes, painted, 
according to the crude fashion of colouring then in use 
for marble, with red and green paint. Head and shoulder 
being thus placed together, it becomes evident that we 
have before us no detached figure, but part of a group, 
for Athena looks downward, and her arm is outstretched 
as if in conflict. And if in conflict, she could not but 
be represented as victorious, looking down on an over- 
thrown enemy. To find this enemy, it was necessary to 
examine the numerous fragments of human figures stored 
in the Acropolis Museum. The lower part of a male 
figure was discovered which in scale and in species of 
marble corresponded to the Athena. The position of his 
legs showed that he was lying on his back. And on 
the upper surface of one leg were at regular intervals 
spots which seemed on careful examination to arise from 
the dripping of water mixed with red and green colour. 
Now the intervals between these spots corresponded so 
nearly to the spaces between the different snakes on 
the aegis of Athena, which were painted in these very 
colours, as to leave small doubt that it was from these 
very snakes that the rain-water fell in drops upon the leg 
of the prostrate man ; so he must have lain directly 
under the aegis. Here then, was the opponent of 
Athena, a prostrate foe, no doubt one of the earth- 
born Giants, whom in so many sculptures, and on so 

246 New Chapters in Greek History. [Ohap. Yin. 

many vases, Athena is represented as overthrowing and 

So far, however, we have only proved a group, not a 
pediment. But fragments of corresponding Giants, in the 
store-rooms of the Museum, soon showed that the com- 
position was extensive ; and the fact that one side of 
them was fully worked showed that they stood against 
some background as in a pediment, and did not make 
up a free-standing group. Lastly, the lines of breakage 
of the figures, and the wide dispersion of the fragments, 
proved that they had fallen from a height. They could 
thus only belong to a pediment ; and the dimensions 
of a pediment to which they must have belonged 
being carefully calculated from the height of the central 
figures, it is asserted that a pediment of exactly that 
size would suit the temple of Athena. Thus, by an 
admirable chain of reasoning, Dr. Studniczka has en- 
abled us to restore to the pediment of Peisistratus' 
temple a representation of a battle of Gods and Giants 
in which Athena occupied the central position. And 
we can further tell exactly what was the condition of 
sculpture, and what the principles of pedimental com- 
position at the time. 

The temple of Athena, though the most important of 
the shrines of the Acropolis in the sixth century, cer- 
tainlj' did not stand alone. For we have recovered the 
whole or part of five or six other pediments of small 
size, and executed in rough local stone. These com- 
positions now form one of the most conspicuous features 
of the Acropolis Museum, and arouse the wonder, far 
more than the admiration, of visitors. To those who are 
accustomed to consider Greek Art as a thing dropped 
from the skies, calm, colourless and faultless, they must 
come with a shock. For both in form and in colour 
these interesting memorials of the early art of Greece 

Chap. "VIII.] The Excavation of the Athenian Acropolis. 247 

are bold, awkward, and wanting in all refinement. Per- 
haps the most curious of them is the pediment put 
together by the skill of Dr. Brueckner, in which Zeus and 
Herakles in the midst are fighting back to back against 
two monsters advancing against them from the corners ; 
on one side the giant snake Echidna, on the other 
Typhon, a winged figure with three human bodies and 
interwoven snakes for feet, a monster coloured throughout 
with brightest red and blue and green, which might seem 
better suited for the adornment of a Mexican than of a 
Greek temple to those who have not realised that Greek 
art, like every other art, was of gradual growth, and 
started from barbarous beginnings. Interesting as these 
pediments are historically, one cannot wonder that the 
contemporaries of Themistocles were very ready to thrust 
them out of sight. But these sculptures are of older date 
than that of Peisistratus. 

It must not be supposed that the Peisistratid age was 
one of barbarous art ; on the contrary, it is revealed in 
these excavations as an age of extraordinary progress, 
and various culture. It is stated that Peisistratus 
collected and edited the Homeric poems. He also 
attracted to his brilliant and luxurious court the most 
celebrated of the artists of all Greece, who set up their 
productions side by side on the Acropolis, and so laid 
the foundations of that Attic style in sculpture which by 
the end of the sixth century was fully formed, and be- 
coming conscious of its high destiny. We have recovered 
the bases which supported statues by Aristion of Paros, 
and Aristocles of Crete, by Archermus of Chios, by 
Endoeus of Ionia, by Gallon of Aegina, and others ; in 
a few cases it has been possible to restore to the bases the 
statues which belonged to them. 

No group of statues belonging to this early age has 
attracted more attention than the very remarkable series 

248 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vill. 

of archaic female figures, clad in the flowing Ionian dress, 
of which an almost endless series is now set up in the 
Acropolis Museum, and which must when the Persians 
broke in have formed quite a crowd of stately statues 
standing in rows on their dedicative bases somewhere in 
the neighbourhood of the temple of Athena. In style 
they vary greatly ; and it is a fascinating task to trace 
from one to another the gradual dawn upon the artistic 
sense of Greece of greater skill in the rendering of diificult 
detail, of keener love for nature, of clearer feehng for 
style. Yet all, even the rudest, have something of that 
inexplicable charm which belongs to archaic Greek Art, 
and which takes a stronger and stronger hold of students 
of archaeology. This charm was felt in antiquity by 
Pausanias, who found something divine in the primitive 
sculptures of the school of Daedalus, and by Lucian, who 
praises the sweet and subtle smile of the Sosandra of 
Calamis. Among ourselves, one may venture to say, it is 
only archaic art which can arouse a real enthusiasm. It 
is not Reubens nor even Michael Angelo, who really 
takes hold of our younger lovers of painting, but Giotto 
and Fra Angelico. For one young archaeologist who 
really cares for the Laocoon, or even the Hermes of 
Praxiteles, three will be found who are strongly affected 
by the Hestia Giustiniani or the Harpy Tomb. It is a 
tendency not unnatural in an age when taste is directed 
rather by the understanding than the senses, and when 
the tendency to asceticism is so marked among more 
sensitive natures. 

Unfortunately it is found impossible to take casts of 
these statues, for fear of destroying the delicate remains 
of colour which yet linger on hair and eyes and dress. 
So it is not easy without visiting Athens to appreciate 
them. A useful series of photographs, however, is ap- 
pearing in Kavvadias' new work, Les Mushs d'A-i 

Chap. VIII.] The Excavation of the Athenian Acropolis. 249 

We shall make no attempt at descriptions, which in such 
cases are useless. But we may say a few words on the 
interesting question, what was the object of those who 
set up these statues, and whom of gods or of mortals do 
they represent ? 

If we question the statues themselves, and the bases 
on which they stood, we shall find little material towards 
a solution. These figures standing stiffly side by side, 
supporting with one hand their dress and in the other 
perhaps a flower, looking before them with rigid smile 
and vacant eyes, seem to embody rather the idea of 
woman than any set of living ladies. The inscriptions 
of the bases sometimes tell us that they were dedicated 
to Athena, or give us the dedicator's or the artist's 
name, but contain no further information. But it is at 
once evident that three alternatives lie before us. They 
might represent the Goddess herself, since .according to 
Greek notions no present could be more acceptable to one 
of the gods than a well-wrought image of himself How 
charming is the dedication written in archaic characters 
on the base from Melos, probably intended for a statue 
of Apollo, " Son of Zeus, accept from Ecphantus this 
blameless statue, for with prayer to thee he finished the 
graving of it." A temple of ancient Greece is seldom 
excavated without discovery of statues or statuettes of 
the deity to whom it was dedicated, placed in it by the 
grateful hands of those who had found favour in his eyes. 
Or, secondly, they might represent not the Goddess but 
her earthly embodiment the priestess. We read that in 
the vestibule of the great temple of Hera, near Argos, 
there stood portrait -statues of all her priestesses, including 
even the careless Chrysis, who had fallen asleep during 
her ministry, while the sacred lamp set fire to some of 
the offerings, and the whole temple was burned. Or, 
thirdly, they might portray votaries of various sorts. The 

250 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. YIIi. 

less educated Greeks were really idolaters ; that is to 
say, they constantly made confusion between a person 
and an image representing that person, like the witches 
of a later age ; so it was natural enough that they should 
wish ever to stand if not in person, at least by the 
proxy of a portrait, in the neighbourhood of a deity in 
whose power to help they fully believed, and who was 
present in his temple-image as he was present nowhere 

These are the three possibilities. But the second may 
be promptly rejected. The only priestesses of Athena on 
the Acropolis were the regular priestess of Athena Polias, 
an aged woman who held office for life, and the Arre- 
phoric maidens, some twelve years of age. The statues 
in question certainly do not represent children, and they 
are too numerous to be portraits of the successive 
priestesses of Athena Polias, each of whom would hold 
office for many years. So they cannot represent priest- 
esses. But between the other alternatives it is hard to 
choose. If they represent Athena, it is Athena deprived 
of her usual attributes, her warlike equipment of hel- 
met and aegis and spear ; though we know that at 
this very time the goddess was usually represented as 
clad in full armour. And if they represent votaries, 
these votaries are generalized, and have nothing of indi- 
vidual character in them. Either the deity has given up 
her divinity for womanhood, or the women have merged 
their womanhood in something which approaches the 
divine. Between these alternatives it would not be easy 
to decide, but for the statement of Pausanias already 
adduced, that there stood in his time on the Acro- 
polis figures of Athena blackened by the smoke of 
Persian fires, which seems to suggest that statues not 
preserved but buried would be not of the Goddess but 
of her votaries. This argument perhaps must not be 

Ohap. VIII.] The Excavation of the Athenian Acropolis. 251 

pressed too far ; but it does seem to make the scales dip 
in favour of the human alternative. 

• Beside these female figures, we have extensive remains 
of the works of art and of piety which adorned the 
Acropolis at the opening of the fifth century. There 
are fragments of horsemen, set up in memory of victories 
in the games or of deliverance in war, or perhaps of 
admission into the class of knights ; there are reliefs 
of delicious archaic art representing the Gods or their 
dealings with men. There is one fragment on which is 
sculptured a youth driving his chariot, which may 
possibly be part of the frieze of the Peisistratid temple 
of Athena. There are several portrait-heads, or heads 
intended for portraits, but telling us more of the school 
of the artist than of the physiognomy of the subject. 
There are scribes seated at work, who strongly remind 
us of the figures of similar functionaries from Egypt. 
And the bases which supported these dedicated statues, 
and others which have disappeared, bear the names, one 
might almost say the autographs, of many prominent 
Athenian citizens, and of the artists whom they em- 
ployed in the service of the Gods of Athens. 

It is interesting to find among the dedications several 
by the great Athenian potters of the end of the sixth 
century, Andocides, Euphronius and others. It is a fresh 
proof of the wealth of these potters and the consideration 
which they enjoyed. Many beautiful fragments of vases 
bearing the names of Euphronius, Hiero, Scythes, and 
other vase-painters have also been recovered ; and these, 
though in themselves of no very great importance, have 
given us evidence long looked for, as to the date and 
the source of the beautiful black-figured and early red- 
figured vases which now form so prominent a part of 
the treasures of the great museums of Europe. 

It was in the last century that excavations in the 

252 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vni. 

cemeteries of Etruria brought first to light large numbers 
of ancient vases painted with scenes from the mythology 
and the daily life of Greece. At first they were called 
Etruscan vases, in spite of the fact that not only their 
art and their subject but also their inscriptions were 
purely Greek. It is only in late years that the fact has 
been discovered that they were importations from Greek 
factories, coming in the earlier period from Corinth or 
Chalcis, and after a time principally from Athens. We 
may congratulate ourselves on the fortunate circumstance 
that the wealthy Lucumos of Etruria thought it in good 
taste to adorn their houses and to fill their graves with 
these delightful vessels. Our gain is inestimable. It is 
true that Greek vases have a language of their own ; and 
probably even well-informed and artistic visitors pass 
through the vase-rooms of our museums without feeling 
much interest in their contents. But the language is 
well worth learning. There is no class of ancient monu- 
ments which has risen so rapidly of late years in the 
estimation of archaeologists. The students who take the 
pains to understand Greek vases soon discover not only 
that their art is, within the limits which it studiously 
observes, most admirable, but also that they carry with 
them more of the flavour of ancient life than even 
sculpture or coins. They not only give us abundant 
information as to the beliefs, the cults and the customs 
of Greece, but they put us at once, if only they have 
escaped restoration in modern Itahan workshops, on 
terms of friendship with the potter who moulded and 
the painter who decorated them. Clay with its mar- 
vellous durability preserves for us not only the ultimate 
design of the worker, but his first sketch, his second 
thoughts, his mistakes and carelessness, his happy inspi- 
rations, and the obstacles which interfered with their 
realization. A vase bears the same relation to a sculp- 

Chap, vni.] The Excavation of tlie Athenian Acropolis. 253 

tured relief which a diary bears to a formal histori- 
cal treatise. It is more local, temporary, and personal. 
And at the same time vases are among our most serious 
documents in matters of mythology and mythography. 
Every year they are used more and more for comparison 
with the plots of the tragedies of Aeschylus and Euri- 
pides, and the lyric tales of Pindar. Writers now 
apply the test of vases, as they are perfectly justified in 
doing, in order to determine the comparative antiquity 
of various versions of Attic myths, and their popularity 
among the people. How far brighter and fresher is this 
source of knowledge than the musty, pedantic pages of 
an Apollodorus or a Hyginus ! In contact with the 
actual works of the Attic potters the conventional com- 
positions of the Alexandrian mythologists fall to pieces, 
and we have, in the place of complicated structures of 
mythological gingerbread, myths living and growing, 
crossing and recrossing, springing 'from the heart of the 
people and finding expression in their customs. It is 
then no small advantage that we derive from the exca- 
vations at the Acropolis, that they really lay a solid 
foundation for the construction of a history of ancient 

To the stirring times which followed the Persian wars 
belong some of the well-known features of the Acropolis. 
Cimon and his contemporaries not only made of the 
surface of the Acropolis a table-land fit for the erection 
of great buildings, but they began some important 
monuments and planned more. One magnificent trophy 
erected out of the Persian spoils remained always a 
feature of the citadel. This was the great bronze figure 
of Athena called in later times Promachos, the work of 
Pheidias, whose glittering spear and helmet were visible 
out to sea, not indeed from Sunium, as Pausanias seems 
to imply, since Hymettus intervenes, but at a great 

254 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. VIII. 

distance. At the same period were set up other dedica- 
tions full of the rapidly unfolding promise of Attic art. 
There were paintings by Polygnotus, the Raffaele of 
antiquity, whom Cimon had brought from Thasos, and 
who became a citizen of Athens and the originator of 
that ethical style, pure and self-contained, of which the 
Parthenon frieze became the fullest embodiment. There 
were statues by Calamis, whose works, now lost to us, 
are perhaps among all Greek sculptures those which we 
should most care to recover ; we can form but a very 
very slight notion of them from the archaizing reliefs 
of the Neo-Attic school. We have recovered* a basis 
inscribed with a dedicatory inscription by Callias who 
fought at Marathon ; and it is possible that on it may 
have stood the celebrated Aphrodite of Calamis; but 
this is a poor consolation. There were also works by 
Myron of Discobolus fame, notably his cow, about which 
the poetasters of antiquity wrote thousands of epigrams, 
none of which, if we may judge of them by those extant, 
told anything about the work of art, but only informed 
men as to the ingenuity of the epigrammatist. 

The other works planned at this time were not final. 
Propylaea were planned to form an entrance on the west, 
but they had soon to make way for the far more 
magnificent Propylaea of Pericles. A Parthenon is sup- 
posed to have been planned, but it seems not to have 
risen above the foundations. We cannot be sure why 
the next generation chose to begin these tasks afresh, 
instead of working on the projected lines. But it seems 
likely that the rapid rise of Athenian power and prosperity 
enlarged the ambition of the architects and artists, and 
the Delian fund provided them with so large a treasure 
that they were able to carry out designs of greatef 
magnificence than were a few years before even con- 
* Harrison and Verrall, p. 387. 

Chap. VIII.] The Excavation of the Athenian Acropolis. 255 

templated. Professor Curtius, in an interesting passage 
of the work already mentioned* tries to find traces of 
opposition on the part of the friends of Cimon to the new- 
impulse to deck the city like a courtesan with gold and 
precious stones. 

A question warmly debated in the archaeological camp 
of late is whether the Peisistratid temple of Athena was 
rebuilt after the Persian wars or not. Doerpfeld maintains 
that it was rebuilt without the surrounding stylobate. 
He pertinently asks where the treasures of the Delian 
confederacy could have been stored, before Parthenon 
and Erechtheum were built, save in this old temple. 
Probably if Doerpfeld had contented himself with the 
view that the cella was rebuilt for a temporary purpose, 
and then pulled down on the erection of the Parthenon 
and Erechtheum, archaeologists would have been indis- 
posed to quarrel with him. But he by no means stops 
at that point. He tries to show that it still remained 
standing during all the period of Greek history, and 
was visited by Pausanias in the Antonine age. Thus 
extended, the view does incur grave difficulties. We 
are asked to believe that the beautiful porch of the 
Erechtheum, with its row of maidens standing to support 
the roof, was built within two yards of the blank wall 
of this earlier building (see p. 234) ; and that at a time 
when Pericles was adorning the Acropolis with every 
embellishment which art could devise or money procure, 
he allowed the very centre of the hill to be occupied 
by, a structure destitute of architectural and sculptural 
ornament, and only set up in haste for practical 

It is of course impossible here to give even a short 
account of a controversy which involves the citation of 
ancient writers and of inscriptions, as well as the weigh- 

* p. 140. 

2156 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. vin. 

ing of architectural evidence. Doerpfeld's arguments 
have been met point by point by Petersen, the late 
Head of the German School, and the question is still 
far from being settled. Miss Harrison is as usual 
entirely on the side of Dr. Doerpfeld, whose arguments 
she sums up*. She even goes further, and supposes 
that when Pausanias speaks of the temple of Athena 
Polias and the treasures it contained, he intends not, as 
all writers have hitherto supposed, a part of the complex 
building called the Erechtheum, but this most ancient 
temple of Athena. At the same time she is obliged to 
allow that the very archaic wooden figure of Athena 
which the people of Athens guarded as their most 
important and venerable treasure, was preserved under 
the roof of the Erechtheum, thus acknowledging in her 
theory a weakness which if not fatal is at least serious. 
It is an interesting as well as a pretty quarrel ; but we 
must leave it to be dealt with by others. 

We now reach the great age of Athens, the age of the 
Olympian Pericles, when every year brought fresh fame 
and power to Athens abroad, and rendered the city more 
beautiful within. Never again could come such a con- 
junction of circumstances. In the midst of a people of 
highly organized sensibility and keen love of the beau- 
tiful, a school of architects and sculptors unrivalled alike 
in loftiness and delicacy was called upon to adorn a 
site of incomparable natural beauty, which had been 
swept clear for them by the Persians and made ready 
by Cimon. And for resources they were able to draw 
upon the almost boundless wealth accumulated from the 
tribute, while close to them lay the mountain Pentelicus 
composed of the most beautiful marble which the world 
can show. However splendid their success, it could 
scarcely reach the level of their opportunity. 

* p. 504- 

Chap. VIII.] The Excavation of the Athenian Acropolis. 257 

It was at this time that the surface of the Acropolis 
received the stamp which it wore until the downfall of 
Paganism. It may be well therefore to recount the 
principal features of the site ; and we would beg the 
reader to follow us on the plan. 

It was of great importance to provide the plateau on 
the west side with an approach worthy of Athens. The 
Propylaea of Cimon were set aside as unsatisfactory, and 
the architect Mnesicles was entrusted with the task of 
planning new gates ; not such gates as might keep out 
an enemy ; for that the Athenians trusted to their ships 
and the city-wall ; but such gates as might properly 
impress citizen and visitor as they entered. Not only 
did the Propylaea of Mnesicles form a standing boast to 
the Athenians, but they still form, as every visitor to 
Athens knows, a most beautiful and imposing whole. 
Dr. Doerpfeld has made an interesting ' discovery, to 
which he has been led, not by the unearthing of new 
■facts, but by a more careful weighing of those already 
known. The ground-plan of the building as it stands 
is evidently irregular, and not in accordance with the 
principles of Greek architecture. The reason of this is, 
according to Doerpfeld, that the original plan was not 
fully carried out. The hall which stands on the right 
side as one approaches the entrance should have been 
as large as the hall on the left side, and behind each 
there was to have! been a still more extensive gallery, in- 
tended no doubt for the reception of the great works in 
painting and sculpture, which then every year was pro- 
ducing at Athens. Why the plan was not carried out 
we cannot be sure, but it is very likely that one reason 
may have been an objection on the part of the votaries 
of Artemis Brauronia, on whose precinct the too auda- 
cious Mnesicles would fain have trespassed. There is 
a clear summary of Doerpfeld's reasonings in Miss Har- 


258 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. VIII. 

rison's book ; * it will be to many architects a pleasure 
to follow them. 

Within the enclosure the most prominent monuments 
were of course those devoted to the worship of Athena. 
As one passed the Propylaea, her great bronze statue by 
Pheidias towered over one's head, and behind it was 
visible the smoke curling up from her great altar, which 
stood in the open air. On the right hand stood the 
Parthenon in its unrivalled majesty, and on the left the 
smaller Erechtheum, with its row of marble maidens sus- 
taining the roof of the southern porch. In regard to 
these two temples recent excavation has added com- 
paratively little to our knowledge ; an exquisite head 
of the goddess Iris, from the Parthenon frieze, is the 
chief new addition. The ground beneath their founda- 
tions is the only part of the surface of the Acropolis 
which has escaped a thorough investigation ; and it is 
greatly to be hoped that the zeal for knowledge of the 
modern Athenians will never lead them to venture on ■ 
underpinning the two temples in order to search beneath 

While the Propylaea were being built, one of the 
skilled masons fell from a height. His life was des- 
paired of; but Athena appeared in a dream to Pericles, 
and prescribed a remedy, from the use of which the 
mason recovered. In return Pericles set up a statue 
of Athena Hygieia, the patroness of medicine, near her 
altar on the Acropolis. It gives actuality to this pleas- 
ing story when we discover close to the Propylaea, 
possibly on the spot where the mason fell, a basis of a 
statue bearing an inscription in letters of the time of 
Pericles, which reads : " The Athenians to Athena Hy- 
gieia : Pyrrhus, the Athenian, was the sculptor." 

Besides being Virgin, Protector, and Healer, Athena 
* p. 355- 

Chap. VIII.] The Excavation of the Athenian Acropolis. 259 

was worshipped on the Citadel by other titles. She was 
also Giver of Victory ; and the exquisite little temple 
of Nike Apteros, which stands just outside the Pro- 
pylaea, was really dedicated to her, the " Unwinged Vic- 
tory," in contrast to the ordinary winged victory, who 
was but her servant and messenger. It used to be 
supposed that as Ergane, the patroness of work, Athena 
had a separate sanctuary on the Acropolis. This is now, 
however denied. It is true that an inscription recording 
a dedication to Athena Ergane was found in the space 
between the shrine of Artemis Brauronia and the Par- 
thenon, and in consequence it was supposed that the 
Deity had there a sacred precinct ; but the result of 
recent excavation is to show that here there stood no 
shrine, but a stoa, which may have been the Chalcotheca 
of which Pausanius speaks, and which has been assigned 
to various spots in the enclosure. Athena Ergane must 
have had an altar and a cult, but that she had a temple 
is very doubtful. There was, finally, a statue of Athena 
Lemnia made by Pheidias, which Lucian, perhaps the 
best critic of antiquity, declares to have surpassed in 
grace and beauty all other works of the master. 

Next in importance to the cult of Athena was that 
of the Brauronian Artemis, who possessed a territory be- 
hind a wing of the Propylaea, and whose worship bore 
many marks of great antiquity. There stood in her 
temple, as we gather from an inscription in the British 
Museum, two statues, a more ancient seated one, and a 
later one by Praxiteles. The votaries of Artemis were 
called bears, and in early times girls clad in bearskins 
danced in her honour. A little stone bear found on the 
Acropolis illustrates the custom, which few moderns will 
hesitate to regard as a remnant of totem-worship. Ar- 
temis was everywhere the goddess of child-birth ; so we 
are not surprised to learn from inscriptions that her 

S 2 

26o New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. VIH, 

temple became a regular wardrobe, where garments of 
all kinds, dedicated to the formidable deity, with mirrors 
and many other feminine trifles, were heaped up in 

Other cults had a place, though a less prominent one, 
on the Acropolis ; and of nearly all of them we have 
some remains in the form of inscriptions found on the 
spot. There was Aphrodite Pandemos, whose statue, 
the work of Scopas, was seated on a galloping goat. 
There were Ge Kourotrophos and Demeter Chloe, who 
had a little shrine by the Propylaea, and Pan, who had 
a cave on the side of the rock. It is, however, surpris- 
ing how small a share in the sacred site fell to the 
higher and more dignified gods, Zeus and Apollo, Hera 
and Hermes. The men of Athens were content that 
the great centre of their worship should be their ances- 
tral Athena, the armed Virgin, mistress alike in war 
and the arts of peace. The fact is remarkable. In 
Athens women led a secluded life, and were during all 
the flourishing age of the city of little account, though 
their influence grew with the decline. Nor was virginity 
after early youth regarded as either natural or pleasing 
to the gods. An armed woman could scarcely be more 
out of place anywhere than at Athens. The old saying 
that men make the gods in their own likeness fails 
singularly in this instance. The explanation is probably 
to be found in the identification of the Deity with her 
city. It was no worship of Humanity which held the 
Athenians, but a worship of the beautiful and glorious 
city of the violet crown, a veneration for their illustrious 
ancestors, and a conviction that alike in arts and arms 
they held the lead of the whole world. The object of 
their cultus was an idealized and glorified embodiment 
of their civic life. 

If, with Pausanias, we could have spent a day amid 

Chap. VIU.] The Excavation of the Athenian Acropolis. 26 1 

the splendid dedications and crowded statues of the 
Acropolis, we should have found many things to astonish 
us, and to widen our notions of classical art, which are 
far too narrow and conventional, too much shaped by 
the Roman copyist and the Italian restorer, by the 
outworn views of Winckelmann and Lessing, and the 
conventional proprieties of the Vatican and the Capitol. 
The ancient Athenians were not classical in the narrow 
sense in which the age of the Antonines, or the age of 
Louis XIV., was classical. They followed impulse freely ; 
but the impulse in turn was kept in check by a clear 
perception of the conditions under which works of art 
of various sorts must be executed, and a frank accept- 
ance of traditional types, as well as the sense of what 
was beautiful, and the love of what was natural. One 
cannot but wish that some copy or record remained to 
us of the statue of Diitrephes, pierced by arrows, ap- 
parently an anticipation of the S. Sebastian of Christian 
painters, or of the bronze iigure of the Trojan horse 
by Strongylion, with Menestheus and Teucer, Demophon 
and Acamas, looking out from his side, two works of 
which we have the bases only. One cannot but wish 
that we could restore the group which represented 
Athena leaping full-armed from the head of Zeus, or 
the bronze Theseus lifting the natural rock to recover 
his father's sandals. One cannot but long for an hour 
in the Pinacotheca, amid the paintings of Polygnotus 
and Aglaophon, so infinitely removed from the super- 
ficialities and vulgarities of Pompeii. These things are 
gone for ever, and it is perhaps a poor consolation to 
know that we have of late become better able to appre- 
ciate their loss. 

We must not, however, imitate the modern Athenians 
by ignoring the Athens of the times which succeeded 
Pericles, but must recount, however briefly, the existing 

262 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. VIII. 

monuments of the Acropolis dating from later and less 
splendid ages. 

Of the brief revival of Athenian power in the fourth 
century there are extant traces in the bases which once 
supported the statues of Conon and Timotheus men- 
tioned by Pausanias, and in a number of interesting 
tablets which record the alliances and the decrees of 
the restored Athenian empire. Of the Alexandrine age 
are the choragic monuments of Nicias and of Thrasyllus, 
the latter of which was still surmounted in the time of 
the traveller Stuart by the seated statue of Dionysus, 
since removed to the British Museum. The kings of 
Pergamon have bequeathed to us enduring memorials of 
their love for Athens in the great stoa, of which remains 
still exist in the rear of the stage-buildings of the theatre, 
and in the figures of overthrown Giants and Amazons 
and Persians, executed in the Pergamene style, now 
preserved in several of the museums of Europe. The 
basis of the statue erected to Agrippa in the earliest 
days of the Roman Empire may still be seen outside 
the Propylaea, and recent researches have revealed the 
foundations of the temple of Rome and Caesar, the 
emblem of the incorporation of the city of Athena in the 
world-wide dominion of the Romans. Several existing 
buildings at Athens date also from the time of Hadrian, 
and bear testimony to the philhellenic propensities of an 
emperor who sought to restore animation to the Greek 
nation, and only succeeded in galvanizing the corpse of 
the race. 

Thereafter every century took something from the glory 
of Athens, and added nothing to it. The main blame for 
the wanton destruction of the memorials of their own 
greatness rests on the Greeks, though doubtless Turks 
and Venetians have done their part in the work of ruin. 
The share of England deserves rather praise than blame 

Ohap. VIII.] The Excavation of the Athenian Acropolis. 263 

There is still in some quarters a mistaken notion, fostered 
by the poems of Byron, and encouraged by Greek Chau- 
vinists, that one of the worst spoilers of later ages was 
Lord Elgin. But the facts of history not only justify 
the action of Elgin, but prove that he must be classed 
among public benefactors. He knew that in all pro- 
bability if the sculptures of the Parthenon were left 
where they were, they would shortly perish. And in 
fact had they been left they would have suffered severely 
in the troubled days of the Greek revolt. The west end 
of the Parthenon which he had stripped of its sculptures 
was exposed for a year in 1826 to the repeated blows 
of Turkish cannon-balls. The so-called Caryatid of the 
Erechtheum which Elgin carried off has been preserved 
intact, the five which he left in situ suffered severely in 
the revolutionary war. The reliefs of the Choragic 
Monument of Lysicrates which he spared have since 
been so much defaced, that the cast taken in Elgin's 
time preserves many details which they have lost. And 
in addition the art of Europe received the impulse im- 
parted by the exquisite Pheidian sculptures many years 
earlier than would have been the case had they remained 
at Athens. The visitor at Athens cannot help a moment's 
regret when he looks at the blank spaces in the pedi- 
ments and on the cella walls of the Parthenon, and in 
imagination fills them with the sculptures which repre- 
sent the birth of Athena and the Panathenaic Procession. 
But a little reflection shows him that it was a wise 
prudence which removed the jewels from a casket ex- 
posed to a hundred risks, and not then guarded by any 
strong national feeling. Beyond doubt had Elgin left the 
sculptures on the temple, the Greeks themselves would 
before now, in justifiable zeal for their better preserva- 
tion, have transferred them to the galleries of their new 
and spacious museums. Moreover, Michaelis and Boet- 

264 New Chapters in Greek History. [Ohap. vm. 

ticher, although as Germans free from national bias in 
the matter, fully allow that in possessing herself of the 
Parthenon sculptures, England conferred a benefit on the 

Had the artistic treasures brought to the west from 
the Athenian Acropolis, from Aegina, from Bassae re- 
mained in Greece, Athens would have been too rich and 
the rest of the world too poor in what is after all the 
common possession of civilized man. But the Greeks 
have the future in their own hands. And we must ex- 
pect that year by year the harvest of sculpture in the 
Athenian and provincial museums will grow richer and 
richer, until the country recovers something of the posi- 
tion which it held in the days of Pausanias as the most 
glorious storehouse in the world of the sculpture of the 
only nation which ever really understood sculpture. The 
voyage to Athens, already exercising every year a 
stronger attraction on the cultivated classes, will become 
more and more an essential part of education. And 
those who still believe that classical training is the best 
means of developing the humane side of men will be 
unwise if they fail to appreciate this growing advantage 
which has fallen in their way, or to use it as a means 
of giving actuality to Greek literature and history, and 
enthusiasm to those occupied with them. 

( 265 ) 



In order that the study of history may duly fulfil its 
mission in enlarging the ideas and widening the charity 
of mankind, it is essential that both the writers and the 
readers of historical works should use the imagination 
not less than the intellect and the memory. It is not 
enough to study the chronicles of past days ; what we 
want is to re-live the life of past days ; to sympathize 
with the hopes and fears, to share the beliefs and the 
sentiments, of the age and the country which we make 
our study ; to image to ourselves its daily life ; to fall 
into its ways of thinking. 

The historical training of the imagination is a long 
and laborious task. Nor can it ever be completed by 
the study of documents and of literature ; though these, 
of course, have their place in the curriculum. But it is 
also necessary that the imagination should be approached 
through the senses. We must not only read, but feel 
and see. Thus, there are only two methods by which 
it is possible adequately to carry the imagination through 
past episodes of history. One is to study in museums 
the material relics — the corpses, so to speak — left by 
those episodes ; the other is to visit their graves — the 
scenes where those episodes took place — and there follow 
with patience and reverence their details. 

266 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ix. 

It is most fortunate when these methods can be com- 
bined ; when in visiting the scene of great events we see 
also on all sides traces of their course and results of 
their energy. This is now the case at Olympia, The 
result of the excavations carried on there at great cost 
and with supreme disinterestedness by the German people 
has been to enable the traveller at Olympia not only to 
study the scene of the greatest of Greek athletic fes- 
tivals, but to trace the celebration from hour to hour 
and from point to point. He not only sees the hill of 
Cronion, where the spectators crowded, wades through 
Olympic dust, and feels the sun of Olympia beat on his 
head ; but he can wander on the threshold of the Temple 
of Zeus, pass from building to building in the sacred 
enclosure of the Altis, and stand at the starting-point 
of the runners in the Stadium. Taking the guide-book 
of the old Greek traveller Pausanias in our hand, we can 
follow in his steps ; and out of broken pillars, truncated 
pedestals, and the foundations of demolished buildings, 
we can conjure forth the beautiful Olympia of old, with 
its glorious temples, its rows of altars, its statues of gods 
and godlike men who conquered in the games, its trea- 
suries full of the noblest works of art and the richest 
spoils of war. And we can people the solitude with 
the combatants and with the spectators, a crowd filled 
with the enthusiasm of the place and with delight in 
manly contests ; a crowd over whom emotions swept as 
rapidly as the chariots through the hippodrome, and who 
were ever breaking out into wild cries of delight or loud 
shouts of scorn and derision. We can see the bestowal 
of the crowns of wild olive, and can hear the heralds 
recite the names of those who have been victorious. 

Scarcely any chapter of Greek history is of more 
interest, or contains more instruction for modern readers, 
than that which records the rise and the fall of Greek 

Chap. IX.] Olympia and the Festival. 267 

athletic sports. The chapter is a short one. The bloom 
of all the promising institutions of Greece was short. 
Abuse soon succeeded use ; excess supervened on mode- 
ration ; and the same causes which had made the great- 
ness of the people, in matters athletic as in other matters, 
also caused its decline and eclipse. 

So long as Greece lived at all, and education in any- 
way embodied national ideas, the physical training of the 
body was much regarded. An harmonious development 
of body and mind was sought in all systems of train- 
ing ; and an erect carriage, well-turned limbs, and activity 
of movement, were considered as necessary to the gentle- 
man as modesty and good sense. From their earliest 
years the boys frequented not only the house of the 
teacher who instructed in reading and writing, but also 
the palaestra of the athlete who carefully trained their 
bodies with various exercises. The greatest of Greek 
philosophers, when they discussed ideal possibilities in 
education, never dreamed of neglecting its more corporeal 
side. Aristotle maintained that gymnastic training ought 
to begin earlier than that of the mind ; and Plato, in 
the Laws, advocated the system of restricting boys to 
the exercises of the gymnasium until their tenth year, 
and only allowing them to take up letters when their 
physical frame was already formed. As the boys grew 
older, they frequented new places of training, and learned 
new exercises. The ball and the hoop gave way to the 
discus and wrestling ; but no Greek youth at any stage 
of his life would pass a day without devoting some 
hours at least to systematic development of his body. 
On the banks of some pleasant stream, and beneath the 
shade of groves of platanus, were the early palaestras of 
the Greeks. Here in the open air and during the heat 
of the day the men and the lads contended one with 
the other in mimic contest, or sedulously set themselves 

268 New Chapters m Greek History. [Chap. ix. 

to overcome any physical defect or awkwardness of 
person. Here all, except the classes who were bound 
by sordid necessity to the market or the workshop, met 
in the afternoon to gain an appetite for dinner, and to 
mix with the circle of their friends in talking, in running, 
in leaping, or in enjoying the most beautiful of all sights, 
that of the healthy human body in vigorous action. 
Grave and elderly men, generals, priests, and magistrates, 
were not too stiff or too dignified to lay aside their 
clothes and enter the stadium or the wrestling-ring. 
And in this pure democracy of the palaestra he was 
king who was in person most beautiful and fittest for 
the various contests ; he alone was despised who was 
mean in body or wanting in energy for the conflict. 

To the life of the palaestra a new meaning and aim 
was given by the establishment of the great athletic 
festivals of Greece. Even in heroic times there had been, 
on the death of a chief, funereal sports wherein his com- 
panions in arms displayed their strength and activity. 
Homer's heroes compete in running, wrestling, and the 
driving of chariots. Peleus vanquished his contem- 
poraries in wrestling and the pentathlum, and Milanion 
won Atalanta by his swiftness of foot. But the intro- 
duction of the great festivals at stated times brought 
system into athletic contests. Now athletes from the 
farthest ends of the Hellenic world could be sure of 
meeting formidable competitors, and had a chance of 
trying for the championship of Hellas. At first men 
contended at Olympia in running only, a fact which 
makes it seem likely that the sports of the heroic age 
were somewhat out of use ; but before long, wrestling, 
the pentathlum, and other contests were added. 

The ideas of the different races and cities of Greece 
of course varied as to the nature of physical perfection 
and the objects of gymnastic training. With the Spar- 

Chap. IS.] Olympia and tlie Festival. 269 

tans endurance and hardness were most thought of; 
among the lonians grace and symmetry were wor- 
shipped. The Boeotians cultivated wrestling in a marked 
manner. Croton was noted for the great stature and 
force of her athletes ; Aegina sent forth men highly 
skilled in pugilism. But, setting aside these minor dif- 
ferences, we may find some distinctive features which 
specially marked the athletics of the Greeks in general. 
The most striking of these, and indeed the key to 
them all, was the custom of complete nudity during 
exercise. Runners, wrestlers, leapers and boxers, whether 
practising among themselves or performing at the games 
beneath the eyes of assembled multitudes, divested them- 
selves of every shred of clothing. Over and over again 
we find it mentioned by the writers as one of the marks 
of distinction between Greeks and barbarians that, while 
the latter were ashamed to show themselves naked, a 
true Hellene thought no shame in doing so. This was 
a result brought about by gymnastic training. But 
when it was established it seemed, to every true Greek, 
part of the order of nature. The Lydians, Herodotus 
naively remarks, are ashamed to be seen naked, even 
the men of them. Not long ago, says Plato, the Greeks 
thought, just like the barbarians, that it was a shame 
and an absurdity for a man to appear naked. The 
very first thing, says Solon in a dialogue of Lucian, 
which an athlete has to learn, is to expose his unpro- 
tected body to all kinds of weather. Such exposure 
was made more possible by a free use of oil, which 
the Greek daily rubbed into every part of his body, 
and which probably had the effect not only of protecting 
its surface against sun and wind, but of diminishing the 
flow of perspiration and of rendering the joints supple 
and elastic. Over the oil was sprinkled fine sand, which 
had a detergent effect. Baths too were greatly used in 

270 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ix. 

the Greek gymnasia, not warm baths so much until 
late times, but frequent cold plunges in the river and 
douches beneath a fountain. 

Such training must have had a wondrous effect in 
rendering the body hard and healthy, and the skin soft 
and supple. This question, however, we leave to phy- 
sicians, and speak only of the outward physical and 
moral effects of the life. The first result would be 
ruddiness of body. When Agesilaus stripped his Persian 
prisoners, their white bodies caused the utmost ridicule 
among the bronzed Greek soldiers, who looked on them 
as on women brought up delicately in houses. In 
Greek paintings the bodies of women are rendered by 
white colour, but those of men are red, and this no 
doubt only reproduces the facts of daily life. And with 
ruddiness there was joined the utmost symmetry. Grace 
and rhythm of movement and form aroused enthusiastic 
admiration wherever Greek men practised together. 
This, all strove to imitate, all looked for in friend and 
connection, all desired to perpetuate. Statues of the 
most beautiful and vigorous men, of victorious athletes 
in particular, were erected by the hundred and thousand, 
not at Olympia only, but in every city of Greece. Of 
these a small remnant remains to testify to us of Greek 
physical perfection. Modern sculptors sigh in ,vain for 
models which can compare with them ; in the gymnastic 
rooms at our Universities we see no forms so powerful, 
yet so well-balanced and light. Yet Galen states that 
in his day many of the young men were not inferior in 
physique to the statues of great sculptors. 

It is this habit of constantly watching the beautiful 
and powerful bodies of athletes in every attitude and in 
every kind of exercise, which accounts for many of the 
peculiarities of the Greek nature. It accounts for the 
unrivalled excellence of their sculpture ; they had not 

Chap. IX.] Olympia and the Festival. 271 

to copy in a studio the limbs of a single unsatisfactory 
model, but were able by comparison of form with form 
daily to grow in knowledge of every part of the human 
frame, and daily to raise their standard as to the possi- 
bilities of human perfection. The shapes of men became 
as familiar to sculptor and painter as those of the sheep 
to a shepherd or those of horses to a groom. These 
artists became intoxicated with the beauty of men, until 
every force of nature presented itself to them under a 
human aspect ; until all their decoration consisted in the 
introduction of human forms ; nay, even abstract qualities, 
events, and places, seemed to clothe themselves with 
flesh and blood. 

There is another aspect in which we may regard 
Greek athletic sports, that is as a training for war. 
Some of the contests were of a distinctly warlike 
character, such as running a race with a shield on one's 
arm, and such as hurling the spear. And in days when 
man clashed against man and a duel often ended in a 
personal grapple, it was no mean advantage to be a 
good wrestler. Plutarch attributes the victory of the 
Thebans at Leuctra to their superiority in wrestling to 
the Lacedaemonians, wrestling being a special art of 
the Boeotians. Indeed, if we examine any one of the 
numerous friezes from Greek temples which represent 
groups of fighters, we may see at once how much the ' 
victory depended on personal force and agility. 

The most learned and laborious of the German writers 
on the Greek games. Dr. Krause, concludes his work* 
with a comparison between ancient and modern athletic 
sports, resulting in the claim of immense superiority in 
the Greeks over any moderns. But Dr. Krause's stan- 
dard of modern proficiency was that of the German 
Turnvereins of forty years ago. It is since that time that 
* Die Gymnastik und Agonistik der HelUnen. 

272 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ix. 

athletic contests very closely resembling those of the 
Greeks have been introduced in our English cities, and 
especially have taken deep root at our Universities, 
Mr. Mahaffy* has more recently compared our English 
athletics with those of Olympia and the Isthmus, and 
decided far more favourably for the moderns. The pro- 
ficiency of modern athletes may be tested by any one 
who will pass a day in witnessing their competitions. 
But it is not an easy task to estimate properly the skill 
of the Greeks in this manner, and in our opinion 
Mr. Mahaffy takes by far too mean a view of it. In 
some matters he is distinctly unjust. Thus, he tries to 
show that Greek pugilists did not hit straight from the 
shoulder, and quotes a passage of Virgil in support of 
this view ; adducing also the supposed fact that it was 
the ears of Greek boxers, and not their noses and 
cheeks, which suffered in their encounters. But Virgil 
knew very little about Greek athletics ; and it would be 
easy to adduce several passages from ancient writers 
which show that Greek boxers attacked nose and mouth 
not less than other parts of the face. The battered ears 
belonged to pancratiasts rather than boxers. ' On vases 
we see representations of boxers standing one against 
another in well-balanced attitudes, their heads thrown 
back and their arms well advanced ; and unless the 
physique of the combatants is very falsely depicted, 
their blows must have been delivered with immense 
force. Mr. Mahaffy ridicules the tales of Greek prowess 
in leaping, and certainly we are driven into scepticism 
when we hear of Phayllus clearing fifty feet at a bound, 
but it is extremely probable that the ancients had 
studied the theory of leaping more than we, and were 
able by means of the weights which they held in their 
hands to propel their bodies for considerable distances. 
* In Macmillaris Magazine, vol. xxxvi. p. 61. 

Chap. IX.] Olympia and the Festival. 273 

During the recent excavations one curious memorial of 
Greek prowess has come to light at Olympia — an oval 
mass of rock two feet in length and one in depth, 
which bears an inscription testifying that one Bybon 
raised it with one hand above his head and hurled it — 
whither we cannot clearly make out. 

In fact, in the matter of athletic sports our more com- 
plicated civilisation gives us no advantage. Red Indians 
run as fast as English professionals, and some of the 
most distinguished pugilists have been negroes. In these 
matters four things alone give success — strength, address, 
science, and practice. All four of these the Greeks 
united in the highest degree. Bodily forms such as 
theirs must have been admirably adapted for every ex- 
ploit, whether of force, activity, or endurance. They lived 
in the open air, had no sedentary employment, did not 
trouble themselves about reading of any kind, or that 
study which is destruction to an athlete, practised for 
hours every day, and had the utmost inducement to 
attain the highest possible perfection. So the mass of 
their young men reached, during the best age of Greek 
history, a stage of physical prowess and perfection which 
has probably never been attained in any other age or 
country. And the custom of doing all exercises to the 
sound of the flute would tend to produce measure and 
a studied grace of movement conspicuously absent in 
some of the most celebrated of modern athletes. 

Once in every four years the heralds from Elis pro- 
claimed through all the cities of Greece a sacred truce 
which was to last for a month. In the midst of that 
month, from the eleventh to the sixteenth day, was the 
great athletic festival of Zeus at Olympia. The earlier 
and the later days of the month were occupied with the 
journey to the spot and the return homeward. War, 
business, and pleasure, were alike stayed ; and the roads 


2/4 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. IX. 

leading to Olympia were daily moi^e and more thronged 
with a mingled crowd. Woe to the man who molests 
one of the pilgrims of the Deity on his sacred journey ! 
Zeus, the protector of strangers, will guard his votaries, 
and severe judgments from Heaven will dog the steps 
of the sacrilegious offender during life or drag him to 
an early grave. 

We are accustomed to think of the Greeks as all alike ; 
yet it is certain that the spectators who watched the 
crowds pouring towards Olympia along the road which 
passed up the Alpheus into Arcadia, or that which led 
to the sacred port of Pheia, witnessed wide differences 
of type and of dress. From all the shores of the Medi- 
terranean and the Euxine Seas the Greek colonies sent 
deputations to represent them at the games, to bear 
offerings to the temple, and to perform sacrifices on their 
behalf And the Greeks readily took a tinge from the 
land wherein they dwelt. There were dwellers on the 
northern shore of the Black Sea, to whom constant inter- 
course and frequent intermarriage with their Scythian 
neighbours gave almost the aspect of nomads ; and 
colonists from Massilia, who in dress and blood were 
half Gauls. There were people of Gyrene, with the hot 
blood and dark complexion of Africa, and oriental 
lonians with trailing robes and effeminate airs. There 
were rude pirates from Acarnania, and delicate sensual- 
ists from Cyprus. And not only were various climates 
and different stages of civilisation represented, but all 
social classes and all occupations. The rich rode on 
horseback, with a train of slaves following, or were 
gently transported in a litter on the shoulders of stal- 
wart bearers ; the poor marched in troops, carrying their 
frugal provisions with them. Here might be seen a 
merchant with a large stock of oriental draperies, or of 
works of art adapted for votive purposes, of which he 

Chap. IX.] Olympia and tJie Festival. 275 

hoped to dispose during the festival ; there, a poet eager 
to recite his verses amid the throng, or a musician 
carrying his precious lyre with him. Here was a statu- 
ary, with his coppersmiths, hoping to secure orders for 
statues of victors ; there a gymnastic trainer, eager to 
learn the latest fashion in wrestling, or to watch the 
prowess of a former pupil. Many would come to fulfil 
a vow undertaken at some time of sorrow or sickness, 
many to consult the various oracles at Olympia as to 
future conduct or past events, to seek the aid of some 
deity in marrying a daughter, or detecting a thief. 
Many would come to display their wealth before the 
eyes of Greece, many to hear news from all parts of the 
world, or to ask after seafaring relations, or friends who 
had long been absent and unheard-of In one point the 
throng was very noteworthy — it contained no women. 
The long journey, the fatigue of witnessing the contest, 
the character of the competitions, were all quite unfit for 
the carefully-nurtured and secluded women of the Ionian 
and Achaean races ; even the Dorian women, who dwelt 
at less distance, and were not unused to mingle with 
men, were mostly or even entirely excluded. Pausanias 
indeed says that although married women were not ad- 
mitted, virgins might be spectators of the festival ; but 
it is much doubted whether this statement is not based 
on some misunderstanding. 

Arriving at Olympia the visitors had to provide them- 
selves with quarters. There was probably no city on the 
spot, certainly none at all capable of containing the arriv- 
ing multitudes ; few buildings besides the religious edi- 
fices and those used by judges, trainers, and athletes. 
The strangers had to pitch themselves tents in the field 
surrounding the Altis, or sleep in the stone porticoes. A 
vast camp arose, and in the days preceding the festival 
the camp became a fair. Merchants set up their booths, 

T 2 

276 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ix. 

and money-changers their tables, all the classes of artists 
tried to collect audiences and admirers, crowds attended 
the exercises of the athletes who were in training, or 
admired the practice of the horses and chariots which 
were entered for races. Heralds recited treaties, military 
or commercial, recently formed between Greek cities, in 
order that they might be the more widely known. The 
representatives of the various cities passed from altar to 
altar, sacrificing to the deities whose favour they most 
coveted ; and the dignitaries of Elis offered a series of 
public sacrifices in a regular order mentioned by Pau- 
sanias, the earliest honours being awarded to Hestia and 
the Olympian Zeus. 

The judges appointed by the people of Elis to conduct 
the festival were called Hellanodicae. Their number 
varied between eight and twelve. Their first business 
was to conduct an examination of the candidates who 
wished to enter for the various contests. Duty to Zeus 
himself required that no person who was not of Greek 
blood, that no one who had been convicted of crime, or 
guilty of impiety, that no member of a city which had 
incurred the divine wrath, should be admitted. Candi- 
dates had also to prove that for ten months they had 
been undergoing a regular course of training in a gym- 
nasium, and to practise for the thirty days preceding the 
festival at the great gymnasium of Elis, under the eyes of 
the Hellanodicae themselves. After undergoing these 
tests their names were placed on a white board, and 
suspended at Olympia. After this there was no drawing 
back. He who, when the time came, shrank from the 
contest, was adjudged a coward, and fined with a iine 
as heavy as that inflicted on men guilty of bribery, or 
of taking an unfair advantage of an opponent. The 
greatest of Greek athletes, Theagenes, entered at.Olyrnpia 
for the contests of boxing and the pancratium. In the 

Chap. IX.] Olympia and the Festival. 277 

former he was victorious, but suffered so severely that 
he was unfit for the terrible test of the pancratium, and 
even he was remorselessly fined, as failing to appear 
through cowardice. 

When the candidates enrolled themselves they offered 
a boar in sacrifice, at the altar of Zeus Horcius, the 
hearer of oaths, which stood in the Senate-House, and 
swore solemnly to observe the laws of the contest. After 
they were entered, they and their friends alike besieged 
the altars of those deities who specially interested them- 
selves in the games, and more particularly of the heroes 
who had in mythical ages distinguished themselves in 
the various sports. Charioteers sought the Heroum of 
Pelops ; pancratiasts specially invoked the aid of Her- 
cules, pentathli implored the assistance of Peleus, and 
boxers appealed to the protection of Euthymus, a boxer 
of historical times, but of world-wide fame. 

The leisure days before the festival would, by most of 
the visitors, be spent in great part amid the temples and 
statues of the Altis. And we are now, in consequence of 
the results of the German excavations, enabled to form 
a clear and satisfactory idea as to what they would have 
found there to awaken their emotions of admiration and 
piety. The central point of it, alike in a material and 
a religious sense, was the great Temple of Zeus. To- 
wards this, every visitor would at once make his way, 
entering at the southern gate of the Altis, and passing 
along the sacred road, trodden by frequent processions 
between monuments erected in memory of Olympian 
victors and illustrious men — monuments whereof the 
bases still exist, with inscriptions reading like epitaphs 
to tell us how much of beauty and of excellence we have 
lost for ever. Towering above the crowd of distinguished 
men, a little to the right of the road, was the wonderful 
Victory of Paeonius on her tall triangular base. The 

2/8 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ix. 

discovery of this figure, a cast of which is now set up 
in the British Museum, was the first important result 
reached by the German explorers, and the first inscrip- 
tion which they copied was the memorable lines, en- 
graved below it, recording the victory of the Messenians 
and Naupactians over their " enemies." We gather from 
Pausanias that these enemies were the Lacedaemonians, 
and that the event really commemorated was the calamity 
of Sphacteria, but that those who erected the trophy 
dared not be more explicit. A little further on stood 
the bronze bull dedicated by the Eretrians, of which an 
ear has been recovered. 

All these monuments the visitor might pass without 
notice in his eagerness to behold the great temple. 
There is now scarcely any temple in Greece of which 
we can form a juster idea than of this. The foundations 
are complete, even the pavement remains in parts, and 
the columns lie side by side close to the temple, just 
as they fell in the earthquake which shattered the fabric. 
To a large extent the structure might be built again 
from the old materials, which lie on the site in a 
disorder beneath which a real order may be sometimes 
discerned. And it is not only the shell of the ediiice 
which remains ; the metopes which adorned its ends, 
and the compositions which filled its two pediments, 
have been slowly recovered, piece by piece, ffom the 
ground, until we can form a very distinct notion of the 
sculpture of the temple ; only that the great chrys- 
elephantine statue of Pheidias, the chief glory of Olym- 
pia, and the embodiment of the highest Greek notion 
of divinity, has perished completely. It is supposed 
that the only direct copy of it which has come down 
to us from antiquity is to be found on bronze coins of 
Elis, of the age of Hadrian. 

The student who would study the Olympian temple 



f* _E A S U R I E S 

'■'fr, :■-.; 

Chap. IX.] Olympia and the Festival. 279 

may supplement a visit to the new museum at Olympia 
itself by one to the museums of Berlin or Dresden, 
where casts of the marbles found at Olympia have 
been arranged by scientific hands into groups such as 
they may originally have formed.* Here the student 
will find the pedimental groups recomposed, as far as 
is at present possible, and can judge of the appearance 
they must have presented to the ancient visitor at 

According to Pausanias, in the eastern pediment 
Paeonius represented the chariot-race between Oenomaus 
and Pelops ; in the western pediment Alcamenes por- 
trayed the battle of the Centaurs and the Lapithae at 
the marriage of Pirithous. Both of these groups are 
full, to the archaeologist, of instruction, and to the artist, 
it must be confessed, of disappointment. It might have 
been expected that the great sculptors who worked at 
Olympia, the elder contemporaries of Pheidias, would 
have left us something which might in its way rival 
the marvellous grace and charm which belong to the 
pedimental groups of the Parthenon. All critics are 
agreed that this expectation has not been realised, and 
the art-loving part of the public seems to have made 
up its mind that the Olympian pediments may be 
neglected or despised. It is true that some of the groups 
which represent Centaurs struggling with their prey are 
of great force of design, and that some of the standing 
and reclining figures are by no means devoid of a 
certain largeness and nobility of treatment. But it is 
agreed that the whole effect, more especially of the 

* The literature on the subject of the arrangement of these 
pediments is very extensive ; most of it is in the pages of the German 
Archaeological Jahrhich of the last few years. The little models of 
Gruettner to be found in all museums of casts afford a useful but 
somewhat misleading means for comparing the various views, 

28o New Chapters in Greek History. LChap. ix. 

Oenomaus group, is poor ; that the drapery of the 
figures is rendered in a shallow and feeble manner ; 
that the faults of execution are numberless. Indeed, 
an ordinary student of art will find, in an hour's study 
of these figures, faults which in our day an inferior 
sculptor would not commit. And, what it still worse 
to a modern eye, the figures are not only faulty, but 
often displeasing, and the heads have a heaviness which 
sometimes seems to amount to brutality, and are re- 
pellent, if not absolutely repulsive. 

That which repels the artist, attracts the archaeologist, 
who is bound to explain how this character can attach 
to sculptures from the most celebrated temple in Greece. 
In seeking an explanation we have lighted on many 
new truths. It has been suggested by Professor Brunn, 
that the peculiarities of Olympian sculpture arise from 
the circumstance that both Paeonius and Alcamenes 
were trained in the peculiar schools of Northern Greece. 
Others have fancied that these two artists only furnished 
the designs for the pedimental groups, and that these, 
designs were very much marred in the execution by the 
clumsiness of the Peloponnesians who -were employed 
as craftsmen. It can scarcely be doubted that there 
is much truth in this latter part of the theory, and we 
may safely lay to the credit of unskilled stone-masons 
the smaller defects of the pedimental sculptures. But, 
even then, the artist who designed the Chariot-contest 
can scarcely be acquitted of jejuneness and poverty, 
and he who designed the Combat of Centaurs sins quite 
as deeply in the direction of excess of strain and de- 
ficiency in sobriety. In fact, the composition as well as 
the execution is of provincial character, and the safest 
plan is absolutely to reject Pausanias' assignment of the 
pediments to Alcamenes and Paeonius, and to suppose 
that they are entirely due to a local school of sculpture. 

Chap. IX.] Olympia and the Festival. 28 1 

The clearest result of the whole controversy is the per- 
ception how far Pheidias was in advance of his pre- 
decessors in the construction of groups and in all 
qualities of design, and how superior were the Athenian 
stone-cutters in knowledge of their craft to those of 
other parts of Greece. This is a lesson which we might 
have learned already from a study of the frieze of the 
temple at Bassae ; but now we are not likely ever to 
forget it. 

The metopes from the Temple of Zeus, representing 
the various Labours of Heracles by an unknown artist, 
though showing the same qualities of art, are certainly 
more pleasing than the pedimental groups. They are 
not, indeed, without rudeness and stiffness, but in their 
backward style there is the charm which so usually 
marks the works of early Greek art, but which the 
pediments have lost, without getting knowledge and 
mastery in exchange. One of the most marked charac- 
teristics of the metopes is the want of elaboration in 
detail. The hair and beards of the figures are merely 
blocked out ; the parts of the garments are not clearly 
distinguished from one another. Critics have long seen 
that evidently the artist who made these groups trusted 
chiefly to the use of colour for the effect of his com- 
positions. And actual discovery has entirely verified 
this conjecture. Among the discoveries is a head of 
Heracles, from that metope wherein he is strangling 
the lion. Of this head the hair and eyes still bear 
distinct traces of colour. In the group of Heracles and 
the bull, the background was blue, and the body of the 
bull brown. Another metope had a red background. It 
is thus quite certain that the sculpture of the metopes 
of the temple was painted throughout. And, indeed, 
the pedimental groups were also painted, for a part of 
the chlamys worn by the middle figure of the western 

282 Neiv Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ix. 

pediment has been found still stained with a deep red 
colour. And colour was not confined to the sculpture, 
but extended also to the architectural decoration. All 
the buildings of Doric order at Olympia are largely 
coloured in blue and red. The pillars are not coloured, 
but the triglyphs are of an intense blue, the abacus 
beneath them red. Of the cornices the cymatia have 
blue and red leaves alternately, and the viae are blue 
and red. It is clear from these very exact indications, 
that we shall always greatly misjudge Greek architecture 
and sculpture if we think of them as cold and colour- 
less. And although the colours of the ancients may 
seem crude, and their juxtaposition harsh, yet it is 
certain that the climate of Greece requires that the 
brilliancy of ' marble should be moderated by colour of 
a strong degree. The Athens of our day, because the 
mansions in it are built of pure white marble, is most 
dazzling to the eyes, and all beauty of form in the 
buildings is lost amid the glare of the cloudless Athe- 
nian sky. 

A little to the north of the great Temple of Zeus 
was the Pelopium. The space between, as Pausanias 
says, as well as the precinct of the Pelopium itself, 
was a grove of trees and full of statues. The chapel 
of the chief hero of Olympia nestled close to the temple 
of the chief deity of Olympia, and there was the closest 
connexion between the honours rendered to Pelops and 
the worship offered to Zeus. But Pelops would seem 
to be the older dweller in the Altis. 

Close by, again, was the huge elliptical altar of Zeus, 
of which the base was of stone, but the whole of the 
upper part consisted of the ashes of victims moistened 
with the sacred water of the Alpheius. In the solid 
mass of ashes steps were cut, whereby men could mount 
to the summit of the altar ; but women, even at those 

Chap. IX.] Olympia and the Festival. 283 

seasons when they might come within the Altis, were 
not allowed to walk on the ashes. 

A little farther still to the north was the Temple of 
Hera. The worship of Hera was quite as ancient at 
Olympia as that of Zeus, and belonged in a special 
degree to the people of Elis. The temple of the goddess 
was built in nearly the same form as that of the god ; 
but it was smaller and decidedly more ancient. Some 
parts of it were to the last made of the primitive wood, 
though in most parts the wood had decayed and been 
replaced with stone. In every respect Hera stood to 
the women of Elis in the same relation in which her 
lord stood to the men of Elis. The men had an 
athletic contest in honour of Zeus ; and the virgins of 
Elis ran races in honour of Hera. The Hellanodicae 
were picked from the tribes of the country, to conduct 
the festival of Zeus ; and women were chosen from 
the same tribes to preside at the festival of Hera, 
and, in addition, to weave every year a robe for the 

Of the Heraeum no sculptured remains exist, like 
those which bring before our eyes the glories of the 
Temple of Zeus. The marvellous riches which Pausanias 
beheld stored up within the temple, among which was 
the wondrous coffer of Cypselus, and the disk of Iphitus, 
on which was inscribed the proclamation of the Olympic 
truce, have disappeared. Only two important pieces of 
sculpture remain. Of these the first is the head of a 
large and very early statue of Hera herself It may 
indeed belong to the primitive seated statue of Hera 
which Pausanias mentions, and which was set up as her 
representative in the temple as soon as ever the Greeks 
began to venture on anything more ambitious than the 
primitive pillars and xoana. The huge flat face and 
rude features remind us of the earliest sculptures from 

284 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ix. 

Selinus, and make even the archaic Hera of the Ludo- 
visi gallery seem modern. The other piece of sculpture 
has already gained world-wide fame, and casts of it are 
everywhere. It is the statue by Praxiteles of Hermes 
carrying the child Dionysus, which Pausanias mentions 
as having been dedicated in the Temple of Hera, and 
which was found there by the German explorers lying 
on its face within the cella, broken indeed, yet with 
its surface almost uninjured, a wondrous contribution to 
our knowledge of art, and an addition to our pleasures 
for all time. 

The statues of the Parthenon belong to the school of 
Pheidias, and those of the temple at Tegea to the school of 
Scopas ; but we cannot lay our hand on any one of the 
figures and say. This is the veritable work of the great 
master. Of the works of Myron, Polycleitus, Praxiteles, 
we have many copies, some earlier and some later, some 
better and some worse. But we had nothing of which 
we were sure that it contained no misunderstandings 
and no embellishments of a later hand. Now for the 
first time we possess a work which may with reasonable 
certainty be attributed to one of the very greatest 
sculptors of antiquity, and for every line and touch of 
which we can hold him responsible. 

That this figure of Hermes is of surpassing beauty 
is acknowledged by all. Though it is wanting in the 
lofty idealism of Pheidias, and the boldness of design 
and anatomical detail of the later Greek schools, yet it 
has charms of its own which strike every observer. 
Power and grace are mingled in charming proportions 
in the figure of the deity, and in his face is a sweetness 
of expression which is most attractive. The surface is 
admirably finished, and we find everywhere the origi- 
nality and absence of convention which ordinarily mark 
the work of a master-hand. We are perhaps somewhat 

Chap. IX.] Olympia and the Festival. 285 

surprised to find, that at a period in Greek art so com- 
paratively early as that of Praxiteles, every trace of 
archaic stiffness had disappeared ; that the god, indeed, 
may almost be said to lounge. And though there is 
no effeminacy in the form, we may find its softness and 
roundness of outline to exceed our expectations. But 
in that case, all we have to do is slightly to correct 
our notions of the art of Praxiteles. He seems to have 
entirely accomplished his mission of calling the gods 
down to earth, and thoroughly clothing them in the 
flesh of beautiful humanity. His style suited the Greek 
taste better than the loftier manner of Pheidias, and the 
effect it had on the whole Greek world was immediate 
and prodigious. The influence of Pheidias, as is the 
way when artists strike too high a note, spread but 
slowly in Greece ; but that of Praxiteles and Scopas 
may be traced at once in all parts of the Greek world, 
from Syracuse in the West to Lycia in the East. It 
is worthy of notice that on this statue also were found 
traces of colour. Lips and hair still retained a tinge 
of red, and on the foot there were remains of colour 
and of gilding ; indeed, a sandal of gilt bronze had 
been attached to it. 

Close to the Heraeum was the Prytaneum, the official 
house of the magistrates who had charge of the entire 
Altis. In it was an altar whereon the flame never died 
out, night or day. The burnt-out ashes were periodically 
removed and heaped on the great altar of Zeus which we 
have already mentioned. In the Prytaneum continual 
libations were made to a great variety of deities, and 
mystic songs were sung, of which Pausanias does not 
venture to give us the words. It was a sort of meeting- 
ground of all the deities who were held in honour by 
the people of Elis. In the Prytaneum also took place the 
feast given at the end of every festival to the various 

286 New Chapters in Greek History. [Ohap. ix. 

victors by the people of Elis, a feast the materials of 
which were probably supplied from the flesh of the 
hecatomb of oxen which were slaughtered in sacrifice 
to Zeus. Thus the successful athletes became in a 
special degree the guests of the great deity of Olympia, 
and received honour from him in return for their labours 
in his service. 

The Heraeum was in the north-west corner of the Altis. 
As the stranger passed thence eastward along the northern 
border of the sacred enclosure, he would light on the only 
remaining temple which had a place in it, the Metroum, 
or shrine of the Mother of the Gods. The reason which 
induced the people of Elis to erect this temple in the 
very precincts of Zeus must remain unknown. The 
German explorations have ascertained the fact that it 
was not erected at an early period, indeed not before 
the time of Alexander, when many Eastern cults first 
found a home on Greek soil. But on whatever occasion 
the worship of Cybele was introduced at Olympia, it did 
not long continue, for in the time of Pausanias the 
building was without any statue of her, but full of those 
of Roman emperors. Beyond the Metroum was a long 
line of statues of Zeus, the pedestals of which still exist. 
These were erected out of the fines incurred by those 
competitors in the Olympic games who had acted un- 
fairly or violated the solemn regulations of the contest. 
Pausanias gives a list of the fines inflicted. We are 
astonished alike at the smallness of their number and 
the greatness of their amount, two circumstances which 
alike testify to the honour in which the games were held 
and the sportsmanlike spirit of the Greeks. 

Opposite to the Zanes, as the statues of Zeus were called, 
and the Metroum, were the treasuries of various States, 
wherein were stored the offerings which they or their 
citizens bestowed from time to time upon the god of 

Chap. IX.] Olympia and the Festival. 287 

Olympia. The contents of these treasuries are of course 
gone, but the Hne of foundations remains. They were 
buih in the form of small Greek temples in antis with 
pronaos and cella, and in some instances adorned with 
sculpture. Thus Pausanias tells us that the pediment of 
the treasury of the Megarians, which stood at the eastern 
end of the Street of Treasuries, was adorned with a re- 
presentation of the Battle of the Gods and Giants. And 
in fact, in taking down a rude wall erected in the Altis 
in Byzantine times for purposes of defence against the 
barbarians, several blocks of poros stone were discovered 
which are proved by many indications to belong to the 
treasury of the Megarians, and which certainly do offer 
us figures from such a contest. We may distinguish 
Zeus and Athena, Poseidon and Ares, with some of their 
opponents, and a monster of the sea who comes to the 
aid of Poseidon. Another treasury of peculiar interest, 
which has been protected from complete destruction by 
a fortunate landslip, is that erected by Gelo and his 
Syracusans in memory of the ever-memorable defeat 
which they inflicted on the Carthaginians'' on the very 
day, as is said, on which the battle of Salamis was fought 
in Greece. 

Three temples, a Prytaneum, and the Treasuries : such, 
together with numberless figures of deities and altars for 
sacrifice, and statues of victors and warlike trophies, were 
the contents of the sacred Altis in the period of Greek 
independence. Before passing outside the four walls 
which on all sides secured and shut it in from the outer 
world, we may for a moment glance at the changes which 
came over it at a later period. Indeed, in after time 
the fortunes and the calamities of Greece alike left their 
marks in the sacred enclosure. After the melancholy 
battle of Chaeroneia, Philip of Macedon erected in it a 
round temple, of which the foundations still remain. In 

288 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ix. 

this temple were statues in gold and ivory, materials 
usually reserved for the gods, of Philip and his son 
Alexander, as well as of Amyntas, father of Philip, and 
of Olympias and Eurydice. Philip was very powerful at 
Elis, and in his day kings and generals were fast taking 
the place of the Greek deities, -and appropriating the 
honours due to them. So of Demetrius and of Pyrrhus 
and of Ptolemy, the inheritors of the empire of Alex- 
ander, there were conspicuous statues near the Temple 
of Zeus. 

The sack of Corinth by Mummius, which concludes the 
chapter in Greek history opened at Chaeroneia, also left its 
traces at Olympia. It would seem that Mummius was not 
quite satisfied at heart with his work ; at any rate his 
offerings at Olympia were on a most profuse scale. The 
Temple of Zeus was hung by him with twenty-one gilded 
shields, and two large statues of Zeus in bronze were set 
up by him — being the first offerings, as Pausanias says, 
ever dedicated by a Roman. And when in the time of 
Hadrian and the Antonines material prosperity returned 
to Greece, a notable sign of it was erected in the Altis 
by Herodes Atticus, wealthiest and most beneficent of 
the later Greeks. This was a great reservoir of pure 
water, built in the Street of Treasuries, and flanked by 
two small temples, containing statues respectively of 
Marcus Aurelius and the younger Faustina. There had 
always been a difficulty at Olympia in procuring pure 
water, and that difficulty was finally overcome only when 
Greece was in its dotage, and past real enjoyment from 
any outward change. 

Then came the ravages of the Christians, who used the 
materials of the buildings of the Altis for their churches, 
and to form walls of defence against roaming bands of 
Goths and Slavs ; and then the havoc of the earthquakes 
which levelled the proud temples with the ground : and 

Chap. IX.] Olyvipia and t]ie Festival. 289 

then a degraded race who built their wretched cells all 
about the enclosure of any material that came to hand ; 
and then Turkish times, when lime-kilns were estabhshed 
on the sites of all the great Greek temples. When we 
think of such a series of ages of misery and fighting and 
ignorance, we are almost ready to be surprised, not that 
so little of Olympia remains to us, but that so much has 
escaped the grasp of successive swarms of plunderers and 
successive generations of barbarians seeking by every 
means to eke out a wretched existence. 

Around the Altis as a centre were grouped the other 
buildings used by the people of Elis and the Hellanodicae 
for purposes connected with the festival. To the north- 
west of it, between the Heraeum and the Cladeus, may 
still be seen the remains of a great palaestra. This is 
an elaborate edifice some 200 feet square, divided into a 
number of rooms and corridors. Vitruvius has left us a 
detailed description of the gymnasium of the Greeks, 
showing how the various rooms were grouped about the 
hall specially belonging to the Ephebi ; how one was 
devoted to the games of ball, in another was the corycus, 
a leathern sack hung up for pugilists to try their fists on ; 
how one apartment was devoted to the oiling of the 
athletes, another to the cold bath, and another to the hot 
bath. In other parts of the gymnasium were galleries 
with sanded floors for the wrestlers, and raised platforms 
round their sides, where trainers and friends could stand 
out of fear of the contact of the oily bodies of the 
athletes ; and besides, shady walks for the studious, and 
exedrae where the philosophers could hold forth among 
their disciples. The plan of the Palaestra of Elis corre- 
sponds to the words of Vitruvius. But Olympia was no 
place for philosophers. It was in the various gymnasia 
that the final preparations for the momentous struggles 
of the festival took place, and the feverish air which hung 


290 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ix. 

over the place, and infected alike competitors and spec- 
tators, must have greatly indisposed them for unim- 
passioned dialogue and ethical niceties. 

Still on the east of the Altis, but farther south than 
the Palaestra, lie the remains of a most interesting 
Byzantine church. The early date and excellent pre- 
servation of this building make it of great value to the 
enquirers who concern themselves with Christian anti- 
quities. But it is no less interesting to classical archae- 
ologists. The chapel is erected on the solid foundations 
of an earher building. This earlier building lay exactly 
to the west of the Temple of Zeus ; its size and aspect 
are almost precisely those of the cella of the temple, and 
there was a very large door opening in the direction of 
the Altis. It is conjectured by the German excavators 
that this building was the celebrated workshop of Pheldias, 
wherein the great chryselephantine statue of Zeus was 
put together in a space and a light almost exactly 
corresponding to those which awaited it in the cella of 
the Olympieium. The piety of the people of Elis spared 
this workshop, and it was still shown in the days of 
Pausanias as one of the most venerated buildings of the 

On the south of the Altis lay the Buleuterium, or 
Senate-house of Olympia. This is in shape a very re- 
markable building, and was erected piece by piece. From 
the sixth century B.C. dates one long narrow hall with apse. 
To this a second erection, of similar shape, was added 
in a few years. Then a smaller square building was set 
up between the two; and finally, in Roman times, all 
three buildings were united together by a porch with 
colonnades. Greek architecture did not easily lend itself 
to enlargements. When a building had become too small 
for the purposes to which it was appropriated, it was 
necessary either entirely to pull it down and rebuild, or 

Chap. IX.] Olympia and the Festival. , 291 

to add a new building without. The strict architectural 
rules of the Greeks prevented them from altering the 
proportions of temples and halls. In the Senate-house 
sat the Olympian Senate, the body which was the final 
court of appeal in all matters relating to the festival — 
who inflicted fines on competitors, and to whom an 
appeal lay from the Hellanodicae. Within this build- 
ing, too, was the altar of Zeus, at which all competitors 
took a solemn oath to abide by the conditions of the 
contest, and to take no unfair advantage. After the oath 
their names were placed on the list, and read out to 
the assembled multitude. Here, too, was the treasury, 
whence the expenses of the feast and the sacrifices were 

Along the whole eastern side of the Altis ran long 
pillared galleries, which furnished a retreat in inclement 
weather to the Olympian throng, and possibly afforded 
them shelter at night. At least we know that the 
Leonidaeum, which was in a line with these halls, was 
used as an inn by distinguished Roman visitors in the 
time of Pausanias. At the north-eastern corner of the 
Altis there was a covered way into the Stadium, which 
ran eastward from that point. It had been expected 
that the end or head of the Stadium would be placed in 
a recess of the hill of Cronus, such being the usual 
arrangement of the stadia of Greece. But such has not 
turned out to be the case here. The Olympian Stadium 
runs, not into the Cronion, but along at its base. And, 
in fact, in this way the hill would offer a better vantage- 
ground for spectators. It rises so steeply that the crowd 
could stand, row above row, to the very top of the hill, 
and obtain a clear view of the course from the starting- 
point to the goal ; though, of course, a less near view 
than could be had from the sides of the Stadium itself. 
These sides are specially made sloping for the con- 

U 2 

292 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap, ix 

venience of spectators, so that as many as possible might 
see well. As they uncovered the marble slabs which 
marked the starting-place and the goal so eagerly 
looked forward to by the runners, the explorers must 
have felt such a pleasure as rarely falls to the lot of 

The last year of researches was as fruitful in results 
as any. On the west side more especially, between 
the Altis and the Cladeus, discoveries thickened. The 
Palaestra, of which mention has already been made, 
was cleared of earth, and the ground-plan laid bare, and 
another and larger gymnasium found farther to the south ; 
and, farther to the north, a whole series of buildings and 
spaces appropriated to special sports, stadia for runners, 
and spaces for the practice of spear-throwers, and for the 
use of the discus. The Heroiim of the Seer lamus was 
brought to light, and the altar used by his descendants 
in their professional divination ; also the foundations of 
numerous buildings used as residences by trainers and by 

When the celebrated eleventh day of the sacred month 
arrived, nothing was thought of but the athletic contest. 
Before the sun arose, every point of Cronion whence a 
good view could be obtained, every part of the Stadium, 
was thronged. Only the Hippodrome was deserted, for 
the contests of horses did not take place on the first day 
And the throng still stood in the deep dust, as the day 
grew hotter and hotter ; no one dared to leave his place 
for a moment, or it would be lost. Such light refresh- 
ment of food and drink as would support an abstemious 
Greek, each carried with him. No hats were allowed ; 
every man must appear bareheaded in the presence of 
Zeus. Only when the sun went down, and there was no 
more light thereby to continue the contests, the people 
trooped away to their tents, and to snatch a hurried 

Chap. IX.] Olympia and the Festival. 293 

sleep before they thought of securing places for the next 
day. But neither heat nor dust, hunger nor thirst, could 
quench the general enthusiasm. At every skilful blow 
of a boxer, at every cunning throw of a wrestler, a 
tempest of cheers rent the air. And woe to the wretch 
who ventured on an unfair stroke, or who succumbed 
without a gallant struggle. He had to endure infinite 
cries of scorn until he escaped by flight from the hooting 
crowd. Fathers and teachers were near to encourage by 
their voices their sons and pupils who were engaged in 
the contests. We hear of one case in which a mother 
was present in male disguise to witness the victory of her 
sons. She was detected ; but the Hellanodicae, recog- 
nizing the irresistible force which urged a member of so 
athletic a stock into the neighbourhood of contests which 
touched her so nearly, left her unpunished. The water at 
Olympia was scarce and bad ; the assembled people must 
have suffered terribly from thirst ; but against another of 
the plagues of Greece, flies, they were protected, it is said, 
by a special interposition of Zeus, who, in reply to a prayer 
of Hercules, drove the flies across the river. We cannot 
wonder that, as the festival recurred, sacrifices were con- 
tinually offered to Zeus, the Averter of flies. 

In the times preceding the Persian wars, the whole of 
the Olympic contest had been crowded into one day. 
But at the seventy-seventh celebration, night fell before 
the contests were completed, and it was resolved to 
extend the time. After that, five days were occupied; 
already Pindar, in one of his later odes, speaks of a five 
days' contest. Unfortunately, we cannot accurately trace 
the order in which the various competitions succeeded 
one another. The running probably came first, then the 
pentathlum, the decision of which occupied a consider- 
able time. Then followed the horse-races and chariot- 
races, and the boxing and wrestling came last of all. 

294 Neiv Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ix. 

Such, at least, seems to be the order indicated by 
Xenophon, who says that when the confederated Ar- 
cadians attacked Olympia in the midst of the 104th 
celebration of the festival, they arrived after the horse- 
races were over, and the running which formed part of 
the pentathlum, but before the wrestling. Pausanias says 
that in his time the running and the pentathlum pre- 
ceded the contests in which horses took part. In our 
brief description of the games we will follow this same 
order ; we will begin with the running and the kindred 
contests, then speak of the horse-races, and last of the 
wrestling and boxing. 

The foot-races all took place in the Stadium. They 
were in number four. There was the single course, 
wherein the competitors ran one length of the stadium 
or about two hundred yards ; the double course, in which 
they ran once up and once down the stadium ; the 
long race ; and the armed race, in which each competitor 
had to carry on his left arm a shield. In each of these 
races, if the number of entries was considerable, there 
were various heats, and the winners of the heats con- 
tended again in the final and decisive race. We know 
from vases the attitudes of the runners. Those who 
were running a long distance clenched their fists and 
held their arms close to their sides like our runners. 
But those who were contending in the short and in the 
armed race swung their arms with violence backwards 
and forwards at each stride, or rather each spring, pro- 
pelling themselves with their arms almost as much as 
with their legs. How this can have answered we scarcely 
know ; yet if the custom had not led to success it would 
surely have been discontinued. 

Next to the running came the pentathlum, which was, 
of all the contests, the most comphcated. It comprised 
no less than five distinct competitions, and it would seem 

Chap. IX.] Olympia and the Festival. 295 

that in order to secure victory, it was necessary to win 
in three out of the five. First came leaping. The leaper 
held weights like our dumb-bells, called halteres, in his 
hands. He probably leaped standing. The leap was 
measured in length, not height; but as to the distance 
which a Greek athlete could cover we are in perplexity, 
being, as we said, unable to receive the statements of 
certain writers that fifty feet was sometimes covered. 
Next came the hurling of discus and spear. The discus, 
if we may judge from a specimen at present in the British 
Museum, weighed about twelve pounds. It was round and 
flat, and a skilful athlete, by putting all his weight into 
the throw, would sometimes hurl it more than a hundred 
feet. The spear was thrown either with the hand or by 
means of a strap attached to it, as it still is in many 
countries. These three competitions— leaping, throwing 
the spear, and hurling the discus — were the chief and es- 
sential parts of the pentathlic contest. They did not recur 
at any other stage of the festival, and it is probable that 
any athlete who vanquished his competitors in all three 
exercises was adjudged winner of the prize. But when, 
as more usually happened, the first place in these three 
exercises was secured by different men, then the final 
award was determined by the result of a farther com- 
petition in running and wrestling, although both running 
and wrestling had separate crowns reserved for them at 
other stages of the festival. Thus it was necessary that 
the athlete who entered for the pentathlum should be 
skilled in many forms of exercise ; and those who were 
distinguished in it were the most beautiful and accom- 
plished men of Greece. 

The horse-races at Olympia were very numerous. 
First in honour and importance was the race of four- 
horse chariots, wherein the kings and despots and the 
wealthiest of Greek nobles thought it an honour to be 

296 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ix. 

successful. Certain cities, such as Syracuse and Agri- 
gentum, were so proud of the victories of their citizens 
at Olympia that they adopted the victorious quadriga as 
the normal type of their coins. The family which 
secured a victory in the chariot-race at once acquired a 
certain standing, and was looked up to even in the most 
democratic cities. Yet this victory must have rested in 
a great degree with fortune. For, as all the chariots had 
to turn round a pillar at the end of the course, collisions 
between them were excessively common. The best 
chariots might easily thus be wrecked and the worst 
survive. Thus, when Dionysius the Elder, Despot of 
Syracuse, contended at Olympia in the chariot-race, all 
the other competitors agreed to crush his quadriga, in 
order that the prize might not fall to one who. had 
inflicted so much injury on Greeks, and ruined so many 

Besides the race of four-horse chariots there was a race 
of pair-horse chariots, of mule-chariots, of quadrigas of 
colts, and other chariots. Horses were also run out of 
harness. Philip of Macedon won in the single-horse race, 
and was so elated that he placed on his coinage the vic- 
torious horse, with a jockey on his back; and a wreath on 
his neck. This was in the same year in which his son 
Alexander was born and Potidaea fell into his hands, 
and he classed all three events together as splendid gifts 
of fortune. But of course at Olympia he won no stakes, 
only an olive-wreath, and the name of having been vic- 
torious in the sacred contest. 

To the equestrian contests succeeded wrestling, boxing, 
and the pancratium. The wrestling of the Greeks was as 
full of tricks and feints as that of modern times. As the 
Greeks wrestled quite naked, and rubbed themselves with ■ 
oil before entering the lists, it must have been no easy 
matter to get a hold, and the ancients naturally thought a 

Chap. IX.] Olympia and the Festival. 297 

good grasp the better part of the battle. We learn that 
victory was bought with three throws ; but it remains 
uncertain as to how throws were counted, and whether 
when the combatants had fallen they continued the 
struggle on the ground. The Greek boxers wound about 
their hands a strip of raw ox-hide, which seems to have 
been intended partly to protect the hand, and partly 
to moderate the force of blows, like our boxing-gloves. 
Certainly at its introduction it was not meant to inflict 
,a cruel' wound ; the nail-studded cestus was unknown to 
the Greeks in early times. Peculiar to the Greeks was 
the pancratium, a mixture of boxing and wrestling — a 
•cruel combat, continued whether standing or on the 
ground, until one of the contending athletes acknowledged 
himself defeated. 

In these three competitions the competitors had, of 
■course, to be drawn in pairs, and the Hellanodicae 
managed this in a very business-like manner. They put 
into an urn two tesserae marked A, two marked B, and 
so forth, the number of tesserae corresponding to that of 
the competitors. The athletes then drew each a tessera 
at random, and the two who drew an A had to contend 
together, likewise the two who drew a B, and so on. If 
there was an uneven number of competitors one would 
have a letter to himself, and so draw a bye. He was 
■called the Ephedrus. Of course the victors in the first 
round drew again for opponents in the second round, thus 
proceeding until only two were left in. 

When the toils and agonies of the Olympic contest 
were over, there followed the rewards of the victors. From 
the sacred olive-tree several branches, as many indeed as 
there were contests, were cut with a golden knife by a boy 
specially selected, both of whose parents must still be 
.alive. Of each of these branches a wreath was made, and 
these wreaths were placed upon a brazen tripod in full 

298 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ix. 

view of the people. On the fifth day of the contest, the 
fifteenth of the sacred month, a solemn assembly was held, 
and the victors came up in order to receive their prizes. 
They wound woollen fillets round their heads, and over 
the fillets one of the Hellanodicae placed the wreath, 
while another probably handed a palm. At the same 
moment a herald announced in loud tones the name and 
city of the athlete who was being crowned, together with 
the contest in which he had been victorious. On every 
announcement followed a burst of acclamation, and not 
the victor alone, but all his friends and relations felt a 
thrill of pride and delight, which extended even to all 
the spectators who could boast of being born in the same 

Then followed a round of feasting and sacrifices. All 
the gods, whose protection the athletes had implored 
before the contest, were rewarded with sacrifices by those 
who attributed the victory to their favour and assistance. 
Again the magistrates of Elis were lavish with offerings at 
the altars of the Altis. To Zeus himself a whole hecatomb 
of oxen was brought ; the victims were slaughtered, and 
with their fliesh a great feast was made, a feast to which 
the people of Elis invited all the victorious athletes. 
Meantime, if these were wealthy, they would be, like 
Alcibiades, keeping open house for all their friends; if 
they were not, they had but to choose whom among their 
friends and townsfolk they would honour by accepting in- 
vitations to their tables. The poets were called in to write 
odes in honour of the victors and of all their ancestors. 
Sculptors were called in to execute portraits of them in 
bronze and marble, to be placed in the Altis for the study 
of all future generations. As they moved about, dis- 
tinguished by the fillets they wore and their palms, they 
were ever the centres of admiring crowds, and followed by 
the eyes of all. 

Chap. IX.] Olympia and the Festival. 299 

What became of the vanquished ? Of them we hear but 
little. But it is to be feared that the Greeks did not treat 
athletes who had manfully striven and failed of success 
with that respect which they merited. We may fear that 
they often incurred undeserved hissing and ridicule : cer- 
tainly they retired from the scene of contest, or hid them- 
selves in the throng, and tried to escape notice. Respect 
for a vanquished competitor could never be counted among 
Greek virtues. 

Soon Olympia began to empty. In groups and parties 
as they had come, the spectators dispersed. Only those 
who knew any of the victors formed a throng about him, 
in order to lead him home in solemn procession. Travel- 
ling, they beguiled their way with song and merry-making. 
And as they approached their native city they began to 
prepare for a splendid reception. In the city the success 
of the athlete had been already announced, and his ap- 
proach was expected. It was a white day ; no work was 
done, but all the population crowded out to welcome 
him who had brought home such honour. According to 
ancient usage, a part of the city-wall was thrown down in 
order that the hero might pass by a way not made vulgar 
by other footsteps. And so he entered to the notes of a 
triumphal song, written by a Pindar or Simonides and 
sung by the noblest-born of the city, passing over a path 
strewn with flowers towards the house of his father. Nor 
did the honours even then cease ; ever after the hero was 
a man to be followed and respected. The proudest and 
wealthiest houses sought an alliance with him in marriage, 
his voice was listened to with respect in council, and in 
war the place of greatest honour and danger was specially 
reserved for him. 

Such was the Olympian festival at its best, in the age 
between the Persian invasion of Greece and the Greek 
invasion of Persia. But it was not long before evil days 

300 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ix. 

came. The degradation of Greek athletic sports may be 
traced to several causes. The less pleasing of them— 
boxing and the pancratium — came more into favour and 
use, and at the same time changed their character. Boxing 
had, indeed, from early times been practised at Olympia, 
but was not at first savage in character. The early 
cestus was very unlike the cruel instrument made of iron 
and leather which suited the brutal tastes of the Romans, 
and which was even introduced in late times at Pytho 
and Olympia. The pancratium, in which two athletes 
were set together to fight with fists and feet and in 
wrestling until one confessed himself vanquished, must 
always have been a sport unfitted for gentlemen. At 
Sparta it was proscribed, it being contrary to the genius 
of the people that any one of them should allow that he 
was vanquished, even in sport. Yet for a time the victors 
in boxing and the pancratium are frequently men of the 
noblest and wealthiest Greek families, such as the Dia- 
goridae of Rhodes, and the wealthy Dorians of Aegina. 
It was only by degrees that the professional element 
among the competitors came in, and the gentlemanly 
spirit went out. The first Alexander of Macedon was 
proud to enter among the runners at Olympia ; the third 
Alexander was indignant when such a course was sug- 
gested to him. 

We cannot trace the change in detail, but only discern a 
landmark here and there. It was Dromeus of Stymphalus 
who, in the fifth century, substituted a meat diet for the 
previous regimen of cheese and figs, and ever after his 
time athletes who intended to be successful had to devour 
great quantities of flesh, a diet unnatural in the cHmate of 
Greece, and apt to produce sleepiness and slowness of 
wit. But it was Herodicus of Selymbria, a contemporary 
of Socrates, who ruined athletics, by introducing elaborate 
rules for eating and drinking and exercise. In fact, he 

Chap. IX.] Olympia and tJie Festival. 301 

first made training into a system, and discovered the fatal 
truth that, by scientific tending, the human body can be 
made, not healthy and beautiful, ' but muscular, and 
adapted to this or that special exercise. He, no doubt, 
improved the speed of the races and the skill of the 
wrestlings, but he spoiled athletics as a means of education 
for life and happiness. After his time, victory at Olympia 
became a thing which had to be worked for by special 
methods, instead of being the crown of a career good in 
itself The competitors ceased to be drawn from the 
better classes : probably many of them trained for the 
games in order that they might make a living afterwards 
as professional trainers, or in order that they might secure 
the more substantial prizes allotted to victors in the 
Hellenistic cities of Asia. Instead of being an element 
in the life of all, athletic sports became the whole of the 
life of a special class. 

.We know that this lamentable change did not take 
place all at once. Sparta in particular, true to her high 
traditions, opposed all speciality in the matter of athletics. 
In that city new tricks in athletic contests, and new 
methods of training, were not allowed ; we even hear 
of youths who were chastised by the Ephori for attempt- 
ing finesse in ball-play. But in all countries that which 
secures success must succeed ; and there can be little 
doubt that the Olympian victory went more and more 
to the professional. At the same time a complete 
change comes over the sentiments of poets, philosophers, 
and the leaders of Greek thought in relation to the 

By an old custom of Athens an Olympian victor had a 
right to live at the public expense in the Prytaneum ; by 
an old Spartan law he had a right in battle to stand next 
the king. In the time of Pindar a victorious athlete was 
placed almost among the demi-gods, and Dionysius the 

302 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. is. 

Elder offered the athlete Antipater a large sum if he 
would allow Syracuse to receive the credit of giving him 
birth. But in the time of Plato, thinking men were 
beginning to find the reverse of the medal. Xenophon 
makes Socrates complain that excess in some one sport 
spoils the symmetry of the body, runners acquiring thick 
legs and feeble shoulders, and boxers large shoulders and 
weak legs. Socrates' disciple, Euripides, makes one of 
his characters declare athletes to be one of the greatest 
pests of Greece, and ask what throwing the discus and 
wrestling have to do with leading to wisdom and virtue. 
Perhaps in the strictures of this poet we may see too 
much of the sophist, who is inclined to value the intel- 
lectual faculties of his countrymen only, and to despise 
mere physical prowess. But some of the most distin- 
guished warriors of later Greece echo his sentiments as 
regards the value of athletes. Epaminondas declared that 
fleshy boxers and pancratiasts were of no use as soldiers, 
and dismissed them from his army. Alexander the Great 
cared not for athletic sports. When Philopoemen was 
urged to cultivate his natural gift of wrestling, he refused, 
saying that if he studied to become a better wrestler, he 
should become a worse soldier. Special diet and special 
training made athletes into a special class, and late writers 
do not tire of ridiculing them — their vast muscle and 
small wit, their extreme appetite for food and sluggish- 
ness in war, their sleepiness and stupidity. The great 
physician Galen sets his face against -athletic training, 
though he of course thinks highly of bodily exercises. He 
declares the state of health of professional athletes to be 
most deceptive and precarious, and their strength to be of 
no use for any sound and practical purpose. 

We may, then, easily account for the contempt in 
which the Romans held the Greek sports. They knew 
them only after they had passed their best. They con- 

Chap. IS.] Olympia and tJie Festival. 303 

sidered that athletic sports unfitted for war ; that they 
made men lazy, always hanging about the gymnasia, and 
quarrelling for want of something better to do. What 
specially disgusted the Romans was the Greek custom 
of entire nudity when at exercise. This custom suited 
neither the better nor the worse side of the Roman 
character. It offended the Roman sense of dignity and 
respectability ; and at the same time it did not iuit 
the hard and brutal fibre of the nation. Certain ugly 
vices attended the practice at gymnasia even in Greece. 
Among the coarser Romans these same vices would, had 
they adopted Greek manners, have been conspicuously 
in the foreground, and that in their worst and most 
vulgar form. The Greek who was luxurious was so at 
least with something of refinement and grace ; but the 
Roman who quitted his native hardness and sank into 
luxury was a mere swine, a repulsive spectacle to all who 
were not entirely corrupted. 

From the time of Roman predominance to our own, 
military exercises have superseded those which have 
reference merely to health and beauty. In most of the 
countries of the Continent it is still from military drill 
that the youth of the nation receives its physical train- 
ing. Among ourselves there has been a great revival 
in the practice of athletic sports, which now occupy in 
our schools and Universities a place which is, in the 
opinion of many teachers, too large and too honourable. 
Whether they will retain that place or not will probably 
depend on their capacity to acknowledge a limit. It was 
excessive training and extreme specialization which 
brought ruin on the athletic sports of Greece, which fell 
into disrepute so soon as they ceased to be a means 
and usurped the place of an end. As soon as it came 
about that a boxer must devote his life to boxing, and 
a wrestler to wrestling, and make himself fit for that at 

304 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. ix. 

the expense of becoming unfit for everything else, then 
all men of sense and dignity began to despise both 
boxing and wrestling. We need not surely apply the 
lesson to English sports, or point out to our own 
youth the danger and discredit which threaten their 
favourite pursuits, unless they take to heart the teach- 
ing of history, and pursue the middle course in which 
lies safety. 

( 305 ) 



At Athens the grave-stones of the ancient inhabitants 
are not only among the most interesting, but among the 
most extensive remains. Near Piraeus, through all the 
Ceramicus, and in many other parts of the city, excava- 
tions have constantly brought to light a vast quantity 
of inscribed and sculptured slabs and columns, which 
have mostly, unlike antiquities of many other classes, 
remained at Athens, and now fill one wing of the new 
museum and the whole space in front. But there is a 
group of grave-stones of equal interest which are left 
standing, just where they were disinterred, by the old 
road which led through the gate Dipylon from Athens 
to Eleusis, the road annually trodden by the procession 
at the Eleusinia. These tombs, in size and beauty supe- 
rior to the rest, are preserved for us, as is supposed, by 
a fortunate chance.* Sulla, when he attacked Athens 
and remorselessly massacred the miserable inhabitants, 
made his approach close to the gate Dipylon. There 
he erected the long aggeres by which his engines were 
brought close to the wall, and there his soldiers threw 
down several hundred yards of the city ramparts, which 
were formed of sun-baked bricks. Hence a vast mass 
of ruin which completely overwhelmed and buried the 
lines of tombs immediately without the gate, and pre- 

* See F. Lenormant's Voie EleuHnienne, vol. i. 


3o6 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. X. 

served them almost uninjured until one day when they 
were once more brought to the light by a French 
archaeological expedition in the year 1863. The sudden- 
ness with which these monuments were overwhelmed is 
indicated by the fact that some of them were and 
remain unfinished ; the completeness of their disappear- 
ance is proved by the silence of Pausanias the traveller, 
who, passing through all quarters of Athens in the time 
of the Antonines, would appear to have seen no trace 
of them. All of the monuments in this group are 
of course indubitably Athenian, and furnish the best 
materials for the present paper. Of the stones in the 
museum it is sometimes impossible to trace the finding 
spot ; some are Boeotian, some from Peloponnesus, some 
from the Islands. But the great majority are of Athe- 
nian origin. Of the longer inscriptions a large proportion 
are from the tombs of foreign residents at Athens. 

I propose to consider in the case of these grave-stones 
two points, firstly, the reliefs which they bear ;* secondly, 
the inscriptions engraven on them. 

Amongst the earliest of Athenian sepulchral monu- 
ments is the often-cited st€le of Aristion. It represents 
the deceased on a scale somewhat larger than life, as 
standing clad in full armour, spear in hand. The ground 
of the relief is red ; traces of colour may be seen, or 
rather might at the time of discovery be seen, on many 
parts of the body, and holes may be observed made by 
the nails which fastened armour of bronze on to the 
body. The design or idea of this slab differs not much 

* On the subject of these rehefs there is no complete work, but 
several monographs, the best of which are those of Friedlaender and 
Pervanoglu, and a chapter by Furtwaengler in his CoUecttoit 
Sabouroff. Recently has appeared the eariier part of the Corp^ 
of Attic Sepulchral Reliefs, edited for the German Institute by 
Dr. Conze. 

Chap. X.] Reliefs and Inscriptions of Athenian Tombs. 307 

from that of a portrait statue. Clearly in early Greek 
times, for this statue is given to the very beginning of 
the fifth century B.C., the survivors wished to see in the 
monument the dead, as it were, still living among them, 
still to be seen in his daily dress, and about his daily 

But it is from the later fifth, and the fourth centuries 
before the Christian era, that we inherit the great mass 
of the sculptured tomb-stones which crowd the museums. 
No one can spend a few hours among these without 
perceiving that the representations fall naturally into four 
or five classes. 

The first and the most extensive class consists of 
formal groups wanting in distinctive character, which 
display the dead either alone or in company with others. 
The companions, where there are such, are sometimes 
other members of the family, sometimes slaves or at- 
tendants, who, in accordance with the well-known canon 
of Greek art, which gives larger stature to the person of 
more importance, are always represented as of diminu- 
tive size. Sometimes the companion is not a person at 
all, but a favourite animal, a pet dog or bird. Such 
subjects are common in Macedonian times. The group- 
ing is usually simple and graceful, the attitudes natural 
and unforced, the movements, if movement there be, 
measured. But the execution is not of the best, save in 
a few remarkable cases, and there is a want of invention, 
nay, there is even vulgarity, in the designs. Pausanias 
mentions sepulchral reliefs by the great artists, and 
a few of those which have reached us are of very fine 
execution : but this is quite the exception. Like our 
modern photographers, the inferior Greek artists who 
usually did this kind of work had a few cardinal 
notions as to possibilities of arrangement, and could 
not easily be induced to depart from them. I will give 

X 2 

3o8 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. x. 

the details of a few reliefs of this class, (i) A seated 
lady, who with her left hand holds the end of the veil 
which covers her face ; before her stands a man, facing 
her. (2) A pair of sisters, Demetria and Pamphila. 
Pamphila is seated, and turns her head towards the 
spectator ; with her right hand she grasps the end of 
her veil. Demetria stands over against her, her right 
hand folded across her breast, and grasps her veil with 
her left hand. (3) A man clad in long himation stands, 
in his hand a scroll. In front of him stands a small 
male figure, naked, holding a vessel, perhaps an oil-flask. 
The scroll which the master holds and the flask of the 
slave seem here to have as little meaning as the books 
and the flower-baskets of photographic rooms. (4) A 
mother clad in flowing Ionian drapery is seated to left 
Her left hand rests on the seat ; with her right she lifts 
something from a little toilette-box which a servant 
holds out. Round her knees clings a little girl. (5) A 
lad stands clasping to his breast a bird which a snake at 
his feet threatens and springs upward to reach. In other 
reliefs we find a dog in the place of the snake ; some- 
times a dog is standing elsewhere in the picture. Tame 
birds would seem to have been the usual playmates of 
Athenian children, and tame dogs the constant com- 
panions of young men, while in many houses a favourite 
which would be rarely appreciated in England, a snake, 
was nurtured. 

As this is the commonest class of reliefs, so it is the 
least original. But it is by no means rare to find on 
sepulchral slabs a more exact reference to the past life or 
the habits of the dead. Sometimes we are told more than 
the bare fact that the departed was father, mother, wife, 
or sister — was young, old, or in the prime of life. I select 
the following : — (i) A youth, naked, or wearing the light 
chlamys only, stands holding in his hand the strigil and 

Chap. X.] Reliefs and Inscriptions of Atlienian Tombs. 309 

oil-flask, those invariable accompaniments of gymnastic 
exercises among the Greeks. No doubt the survivors, 
who chose the design, wished to indicate that their friend 
was prominent in manly sports and labours. In this, the 
field of his best energies, they wished him. still to seem to 
live. (2) A young man, clad in a chlamys, charges with 
spear advanced a wild boar, which is coming out of its 
lair; at his side is a dog, which leaps forward at the 
quarry. Above, on a rock, stands a deer. We see at a 
glance that this is the tomb of one who loved the chase. 
(3) On a rock sits a man in an attitude of grief; beneath 
is the sea, and on it a boat with or without sailors. It is 
a generally received opinion that monuments of this 
character were set up over those who had been wrecked 
at sea. (4) A young rider, clad in the light chlamys of 
the Athenian cavalry, charges, at once trampling beneath 
his horse's hoofs and transfixing with his spear a fallen 
foe, who tries in vain with his shield to ward off the at- 
tack of his triumphant enemy. From the accompanying 
inscription we know that this monument was erected in 
honour of Dexilaus, one of the five horsemen at Corinth 
— that is to say, as is supposed, one of the five horsemen 
who did some notable deeds of valour in the battle under 
the walls of Corinth, in which the Athenians were en- 
gaged in the year B.C. 394. The relief thus dates almost 
from the best time of Attic art, and it is worthy of its 
time. It does not, of course, represent the moment of 
the death of the young warrior ; we see him strong and 
triumphant, such as his friends would fain have seen him 
always ; to show him fallen would have suited an enemy 
rather than a friend. (s) Another relief, although set up 
in honour of a man of Ascalon, is clearly of Athenian 
handiwork and design. A sleeping man rests on a 
couch. Close to his head rises on its hind-paws a lion, 
who is clearly ready to slay or carry him off. On the 

310 New Chapters in Gi'eek History. [Chap. X. 

other side of the couch is a warrior who attacks and re- 
pels the beast. In the background appears the prow of 
a ship. From a Greek metrical inscription which ac- 
companies this relief, it would appear that the Phoe- 
nician stranger here buried had incurred great peril at 
some previous period of his life from the attack of a lion, 
who seems to have surprised him resting on the shore, 
but who was driven off by the timely arrival of friends 
just landed from their ship.* (6) A man and his wife, 
both muffled in ample garments, advance towards the 
spectator. Between them advances a priestess of Isis, 
clad in the dress of her calling, holding in her right 
hand the sistrum, in her left the vessel of sacred water. 
It is possible, the inscriptions which accompany this re- 
presentation being illegible, that the monument was 
erected to a father and mother, and to their daughter 
devoted to Isis. Or it is possible that we have here 
expressed in a symbolical form the devotion of a man 
and woman to that mysterious worship which spread in 
Ptolemaic times from the bank of the Nile over all 
lands, and their firm trust that in the next world Isis 
would recognize and protect her worshippers. 

Such are a few specimens of the reliefs which give us 
more precise information with regard to the lives and 
habits of the dead. In the same way, those who had 
devoted themselves to a profession appear on their tombs 
with the badges of that profession ; physicians, for 
instance, with the cupping-glass and other instruments 
of their daily use. And in this matter it is clear that 
the Athenians merely followed one of the most natural 
of all instincts leading to a custom common among all 
nations. Thus in the Odyssey, the ghost of the drowned 
oarsman, Elpenor, begs Ulysses, when he reaches the 

* I should say that another explanation of this relief is given by 
Dr. Wolters in the Athenien Mittheilungen for 1888, p. 310. 

Chap. X.] Reliefs and Inscriptions of Athenian Tombs. 311 

island of Aeaea, to raise a tomb to him, and to fix on it 
the oar he was wont to wield. And thus, even in our 
own day, what device is commoner on a soldier's grave 
than sword and cannon, or on a painter's than palette 
and brush ? 

But although the sculptors of tombs usually designed 
references to the past life of those they commemorated, 
such was not always the case. After all, past was past, 
and it were idle to deny that the moment of death 
brought a vast change over everything. The next class 
of reliefs have reference to the fact and the moment of 
death. Among the Romans that fact was symbolized 
in art frequently by sleep ; and among all Christian 
nations it has become usual to speak of death in meta- 
phorical language borrowed from the rest of night. But 
it was not usually merely as a deeper sleep that death 
presented itself to the imagination of Athenian sculptors. 
They considered death rather as a departure, a going 
far away from and losing sight of one's family and 
friends. Scenes of leave-taking are among the most 
frequent of all sepulchral reliefs. I am not, however, sure 
that this leave-taking is quite consciously adopted as 
the image of death. Indeed, all images of death were 
somewhat distasteful to the joyous sensuousness of 
Athenian taste. But when an artist had to represent 
the dead and the surviving friends of the dead in a 
group, this posture of farewell, which must have been 
one of the most usual and natural to think of, seems to 
have frequently suggested itself, and, in virtue of its 
inherent appropriateness to the occasion, to have become 
more and more common. This leave-taking presents 
itself in the least intrusive and gentlest form in those 
representations where a lady appears dressing herself 
with the assistance of her maids for an out-door journey, 
throwing over her head the ample veil, and perhaps hand- 

312 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. x. 

ing to an attendant nurse the babe whom she cannot 
take out into the open air with her. Sometimes the 
preparations are more advanced ; the lady sits or stands 
veiled and prepared for a journey, and gives her hand 
to husband or father who stands opposite. Sometimes 
two men grasp hands as if about to travel in different 
directions. Occasionally a horse appears in the back- 
ground which is destined to carry away the master of 
the house. In this very introduction of the horse we 
see how much the notion of travel preponderates in 
those scenes over that of death. For the horse was not 
directly connected by the Greeks with death. The rider 
on the pale horse had yet to be introduced to the 
popular imagination by the writer of the Apocalypse, 
who must have borrowed from a non-Hellenic source. 
Dwelling closely hemmed in by the sea, they never 
thought of the dead as travelling to other worlds by 
land, but usually as going over the waves mysterious 
and vast to some distant island, or perhaps as penetrat- 
ing into deep abysses of the land. But for journeys 
from town to town in Hellas, the horse was the appropriate 
conveyer. And the horse seems in many cases to signify 
the knightly rank of the dead. 

The old opinion of archaeologists with regard to 
these scenes of farewell, an opinion grounded on in- 
sufficient induction, was that in them the dead were 
represented as seated, the survivors as standing and 
taking leave of them. It is now acknowledged that this 
is not the case. It is true that most commonly in the 
groups one is seated, while of the standing figures one 
grasps his or her hand. But a careful study of the 
accompanying inscriptions proves that it is sometimes 
the dead person who stands while the survivor sits ; and 
again, in other cases both the dead and the living stand, 
while sometimes, again, of the several dead persons com- 

Chap. X.] Reliefs and Inscriptions of Athenian Tombs. 313 

memorated some stand and some are seated. The fact 
is that any pedantic rule of uniformity is put out of the 
question by the circumstances under which sepulchral 
reliefs were designed and executed. It was essential to 
the composition of a group, thought the artists, that 
some of the figures should stand and others sit ; but 
the question which should do which was settled, not by 
a desire to convey a careful meaning to the eyes of 
beholders, but by the study of a little graceful variety, 
within somewhat narrow limits, and the influence of 
every-day custom which made it far more natural and 
usual that a woman should be seated when taking leave 
of a man, than a man when taking leave of a woman. 
Sometimes a little life breaks in on the formality of 
the group. Children cling about their mother's knee, 
or daughters stand by in an attitude betokening their 
grief; but those circumstances which might move 
emotion in the spectator are quite banished or kept 
sedulously in the background. Here, as ever, the 
Greek abode by that motto, " Nothing in extremes," 
which expresses the ultimate law of all his art. 

In the later periods these scenes are common at 
Athens as in other parts of Greece. But the numerous 
and well-known reliefs which represent a feast or ban- 
quet certainly do not Originate in Attica, nor do they 
belong to the circle of Athenian ideas : their origin is 
rather Peloponnesian, and we may best treat of them in 
the next chapter, in connection with the grave-reliefs of 
Sparta and Boeotia. 

Into these representations of life a faint allusion to 
death, a slight |flavour of mortality is often introduced. 
We sometimes see an urn set up in a corner, such an 
urn as received the ashes of the dead ; or the tomb 
which bears the relief was made in the form of a water- 
pot, as was the case, as we are told by Demosthenes, 

314 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. X. 

with those who died unmarried. Like the skeleton at 
an Egyptian feast, this urn would seem meant to show 
that in the gayest ' moment of life death hovers near, 
waiting to strike. If a babe in swaddling-clothes is 
represented in the scene, the meaning is that the mother 
died in giving birth to it. The same moral is conveyed in 
other cases, by the appearance at the side or in the fore- 
ground of a snake entwined round a tree ; the snake being 
the companion of the dead, sometimes even the embodi- 
ment of the dead man's spirit or ghost. And in scenes 
where there is no allusion to death so concrete or con- 
ventional as the above, there is over all an aspect of 
grief and dissatisfaction. Children or slaves are weep- 
ing without apparent cause, or women stand with an 
arm folded across their breast, their head resting on a 
hand, in an attitude consecrated by the Greeks to sor- 
row, not as among us to mere reflection. There are a 
few instances to be found, even among works of the fifth 
century, in which the moment of dying is portrayed, with 
the grief of those standing by ; but this is very excep- 
tional, and even here considerable reserve is exercised. 

All the scenes of which I have spoken have this in 
common, that they represent to us the deceased, with or 
without the living. But sometimes, though rarely, the 
Greeks substituted for these groups a merely symbolical 
figure of an animal or some fabulous creature. On a 
tomb at Athens, erected in memory of one Leon, stands 
a marble lion, evidently in punning allusion to his name. 
Over the tomb of the celebrated courtezan Lais, in the 
suburbs of Corinth, was a group representing a lioness 
standing over a prostrate ram, a symbol the reference 
of which to the extraordinary career and splendid 
success of the woman is evidently appropriate. Stone 
snakes often guarded a tomb, in imitation of the living 
snakes sure soon to glide about it, on the same prin- 

Chap. X.] Relief s and Inscriptions of Athenian Tombs. 315 

ciple on which, when the Athenians sought a floral 
decoration for a stelfi, they sometimes chose the acanthus, 
which is notable for freely growing among stones. But 
it was especially the forms of female monsters, sirens, 
sphinxes, and harpies, which were selected for the adorn- 
ment of tombs. All these were spoken of in legend 
as fatal evils, carrying off to death young men and 
maidens. The sirens especially slew the young after 
attracting them by the sweetness of their singing, and 
so well became the graves of those who were lost in 
the mid ardour of their pursuit of the delights of youth. 
In modern Greek superstition their place is taken by 
the Anerades or Nereids who carry away the young, as 
of old they carried away young Hylas the friend of 
Heracles, as he fetched water from a well. 

Battles of heroes and Amazons, Dionysiac revels, and 
mythological scenes, occurring on sarcophagi, belong to 
Hellenistic and Roman times, and represent phases of 
thought quite other than those suggested by the reliefs 
inspired by early Greek feeling. It is extremely seldom 
that any mythological subject is found on Greek tombs 
at all. Charon, with his boat, sometimes appears in the 
foreground. And in another very interesting represent- 
ation, which however is not Athenian, Hermes appears 
as the conductor of souls, leading gently by the hand a 
young girl to the future world. So small is the part 
played by the gods in sepulchral scenes. Not a trace 
appears of scenes of future happiness or misery, no 
allusion to that future judgment of souls which is so 
prominently brought before us in Egyptian pictures. 
Only, in times when the Egyptian worship of Sarapis 
and Isis had penetrated to Athens, and served there to 
impart purer and higher views as to future punishment 
and reward, we do sometimes find the priestess of Isis 
going before the departed with all pomp of worship to 

3i6 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. x. 

guide them through the perils of the last journey, and 
lead them to a safe resting-place. But these scenes only 
illustrate the triumph of the religious notions of the 
Egyptians over the susceptible Greeks, at a time when 
their national city life was extinct, and they were driven 
by the fewer attractions of the present life to think more 
about the possibilities of the next. 

It seems to be desirable, in view of the unfounded 
assertions so frequently set forth on the subject of Greek 
art, to gather what light we can on that most interesting 
subject from the facts above summarized. In doing so, 
however, it is above all things necessary to bear in 
mind the conditions under which sepulchral monuments 
were designed and executed. And first, it is quite clear 
that where several persons who died at intervals are 
buried in one tomb, they cannot all have been adequately 
represented in the relief, which would naturally be the 
production of a single time. A citizen dies, and a relief 
is erected over his body, perhaps representing him as 
taking a farewell of his wife, while his infant son stands 
by. This same son, may be, dies in middle life and is 
buried with his father, and an epitaph is inserted on the 
monument stating the fact. It may thus happen that 
a man of thirty or forty may appear in the sepulchral 
relief as an infant. Such slight inconsistencies are 
inseparable from the nature of these monuments. But 
it must be confessed that sometimes between inscription 
and sculpture there are contradictions which cannot be 
thus easily explained, and which raise serious reflections. 
The fact is that the conviction is forced upon us by the 
comparison of a multitude of instances, that very often 
the relief placed on a tomb did not possess much re- 
ference to its contents. There can be no doubt that the 
more ordinary sorts of representations were made in 
numbers by the sculptors, and, as we should phrase it, 

Chap. X.] Relief s and Inscriptions of Athenian Tombs. 317 

kept in stock by them for customers to choose from. 
And if the would-be buyer found a group of which the 
general outline and arrangement suited him, he would 
scarcely decline to purchase it because it was not entirely 
appropriate, because it made his wife look twenty years 
too young, or even turned the boys of his family into 
girls. Those who are let into this secret will not be sur- 
prised if they occasionally find a subject repeated exactly 
on two tombs without variation, nor if a sculptured 
group is little in harmony with the inscribed list of the 

Even in those cases in which a relief was executed 
by special order on the death of a person, a relief 
adapted in plan and intended in details to represent 
the deceased happy amid his family or pursuing his 
favourite avocation, we must not expect too much. 
Even here, the sculptor confines himself to a gene- 
ralized or idealized representation. Probably he knew 
nought of the dead, and certainly he took no pains 
to exactly imitate the living. Hence the same con- 
ventional types, the bearded man, the veiled woman, the 
girl, the infant, repeat themselves almost without variety, 
through all the Macedonian period of Athenian graves. 
The men who appear on sepulchral reliefs of the same 
period are as much like one to another as the horsemen 
of the frieze of the Parthenon, or the fighting heroes of 
the Aegina pediments. In Roman times this is far less 
the case ; but among the Greeks of the fourth and third 
centuries B.C., the artist was careful only of the type, 
and careless of the individual peculiarities. 

Nevertheless it is quite an error to suppose that the 
Athenians were all cast in one mould. They differed one 
from another almost as much as an equal number of 
Englishmen taken at random. And of this proof is 
extant in their surviving portraits. There still exists at 

3 1 8 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. x. 

Athens a remarkable series of portraits of those citizens 
who in succeeding years undertook the office of cosmetes. 
This series stretches over a long period, and though it is 
true that that period belongs to the decline, not the 
flourishing greatness of the city, and Athenian blood 
may then have been mixed with that of other races, 
yet the type cannot have disappeared. Taking these 
statues then as portraits of some of the most prominent 
Athenian citizens, and probably some of the purest- 
blooded, what do we find ? One head is almost African in 
type, with thick lips and woolly hair ; one face might be 
taken for that of an English judge ; one for that of an 
Italian street-musician. We may safely affirm that an 
Athenian crowd of the period must have contained as 
many widely divergent types as an English or French 
one. So of the Greek princes who reigned during 
the third and second centuries before the Christian era 
over the disjecta membra, the fragments of the Empire 
of the Great Alexander, we possess quite a portrait 
gallery in their numerous and excellent coins. Here, 
too, we find the widest variety of type, many coins 
presenting to us heads which no one whose knowledge 
of Greek art was superficial would suppose to be Greek 
at all. But although individual Greeks differed thus 
widely one from another, and although, in the Alexan- 
drine times of Greek art, artists quite understood the 
art of taking portraits, yet throughout the forms and 
features of those sculptured on tombs are quite conven- 
tionally rendered. And in nothing does' one see more 
clearly than here the blending of Attic good taste with 
Attic superficiality and dislike of too deep or too per- 
sistent emotion. For a tombstone calling up in a general 
way past life and past happiness would be a constant 
source of emotion, gentle and melancholy, but not too 
intense in degree ; while the sight of the very features 

Chap. X.] Relief s and Inscriptions of Athenian Tombs. 319 

of dead father, mother, wife, or child would be too startling 
and cause far more pain than pleasure. We moderns are 
less afraid of pain, and, when we place on tombs any 
representation of the dead at all, make it as exact a 
likeness as we can. But most, even now, prefer a mere 
slab in the graveyard and a portrait in the family-room 
or the bedroom. 

The sources of these generalized types of man, youth, 
woman, and child are of course to be found in the 
common feeling of the Hellenic nation working through 
the brains and hands of the ablest statuaries. As in the 
accepted type of Zeus, the Greek sculptures embodied all 
that seemed to them most venerable, wise, and majestic ; 
as in the accepted type of Apollo they combined youthful 
beauty with supreme dignity ; so in the accepted type of 
matron they strove to embody all the matronly virtues, 
in the young girl all childish grace and promise, in the 
bearded man the dignity and self-control of a worthy 
citizen, such as Aristides or Epaminondas. The type 
was fixed in the case of human beings, as in the case 
of some of the Hellenic deities, by the sculptors of the 
generation which succeeded those who had fought at 
Marathon and Plataea, and altered but little after that 
until the collapse of Hellenic independence and Hellenic 

Goethe has expressed, in a passage which cannot be 
too often quoted, the ultimate truth about Greek sepul- 
chral reliefs : — 

" The wind which blows from the tombs of the ancients 
comes with gentle breath as over a mound of roses. The 
reliefs are touching and pathetic, and always represent 
life. There stand father and mother, their son between 
them, gazing at one another with unspeakable truth to 
nature. Here a pair clasp hands. Here a father seems 
to rest on his couch and wait to be entertained by his 

320 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. X. 

family. To me the presence of these scenes was very- 
touching. Their art is of a late period, yet are they 
simple, natural, and of universal interest. Here there is 
no knight in harness on his knees awaiting a joyful 
resurrection. The artist has with more or less skill pre- 
sented to us only the persons themselves, and so made 
their existence lasting and perpetual. They fold not 
their hands, gaze not into ■ heaven ; they are on earth, 
what they were and what they are. They stand side 
by side, take interest in one another, love one another ; 
and that is what is in the stone, even though somewhat 
unskilfully, yet most pleasingly depicted." * 

It is a proof at once of the genius of Goethe and of 
his keen sympathy with all that is truly Greek, that at 
a time before Greek art was half understood, he was able 
to judge from the few inferior specimens known to him 
of the general character of these sepulchral reliefs.* That 
on which he lays his master-hand is certainly their most 
essential character. Their whole aspect is turned, so to 
speak, from the future to the past, and from heaven to 
earth. We whose ancestors have been, for some twelve 
hundred years, taught constantly that death is but the 
entrance to wider life, that the world is a place of pro- 
bation and preparation for eternity, can scarcely place 
ourselves in thought in the position of men who seem 
to have found the world charming and delightful, and to 
have been well satisfied with it, preferring to let their 
minds dwell on the enjoyments of the past rather than 
on a future which at best was a cold and gloomy echo 
of the present world. It is not that they disbelieved in 
the unseen world, or thought that the soul died with the 
body ; such scepticism was perhaps rarer in antiquity 
than in modern times, and confined in antiquity as in 
modern times to a few of the highly educated. But 
* Italienische Reise, d.-propos of the museum at Verona. 

Chap. X.] Relief s and Inscriptions of Athenian Tombs. 321 

that inevitable future occupied comparatively very little 
of their time and thought ; it was a cold shadow to be 
kept out of sunny life as much as might be. And when 
it was thought of, it was thought of without very much 
either of hope or fear. Terrible punishments in it were 
reserved for terrible criminals, supreme pleasures for the 
supremely good, but for ordinary mortals an ordinary 
fate was reserved, a sort of ghost or echo of their mortal 
life, made up, like that, of pleasure and pain, but with 
both pleasure and pain diluted and made ghostly. From 
discontent with life and repining at the lot assigned by 
fate, the Greeks would seem to have been singularly free, 
and no nation ever thought life better worth living. I 
shall have more to say on this subject further on. 

It remains to speak of the inscriptions which accompany 
or even take the place of the reliefs, and which have some- 
times a considerable interest for us. It will be conve- 
nient to quote these inscriptions in English ; those who 
wish to compare the original Greek can easily do so in 
the complete work of Kumanudes.* 

If we turned to the Greek Anthology, we could no 
doubt find epitaphs of a far more elegant and finished 
character than those which appear on the graves them- 
selves ; but the compositions of the Anthology are merely 
epideictic, exercises of ingenuity without any such real 
interest as belongs to epitaphs really used. 

There are in the British Museum two sepulchral in- 
scriptions on public tombs of considerable interest. Of 
these one contains lists of all the citizens who fell in a 
single year at the various places where Athens was carry- 
ing on war. We learn from Thucydides and Pausanias 
that it was the Athenian custom thus annually to honour 

* 'ArriK^f ''ETTiypacpai 'EmTvji^Lot,. Athens, 1 87 1. See also the 
Corpus Inscriptionum Atticarum; and KaihA, Epigrammata Graeca 
ex lapidibus conlecta : 1878. 


322 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap, x 

with a public monument all those who had in the pre- 
vious year fallen in the battles of their country — a custom 
which must have nerved for death many a soldier's 
heart, as he reflected that he was sure, if he fell, of a 
sort of immortality before the eyes and in the memory 
of his countrymen. The other inscription,* which was 
written under a relief representing three warriors, com- 
memorates those Athenians who fell before Potidaea, in 
the year B.C. 432. It runs thus : — 

"Thus to the dead is deathless honour paid, 
Who, fired with courage hot, in arms arrayed, 
Felt each our fathers' valour in him glow, 
And won long fame by victory o'er the foe. 

" Heaven claimed their souls, in earth their limbs were 

Yet past the gates their conquering charge they 

made ; 
Of those they routed some in earth abide. 
Some in strong walls their lives for safety hide. 

" Erechtheus' city mourns her children's fall, 
Who fought and died by Potidaea's wall, 
True sons of Athens, for a virtuous name 
They gave their lives, and swelled their country's 

The smallness of the number of public epitaphs at 
Athens is well compensated by the abundance of private 
ones, of which upwards of 4,000 have been already pub- 
lished, while every year brings a multitude of fresh ones 
to light. I will attempt to class these, as I did the 
reliefs. The commonest inscriptions by far are those 
which simply record, in the case of a man, his name, his 

* Corpus of British Museum Inscriptions, i. p. 102. The reading 
of the first few lines is very doubtful. I follow Mr. Hicks. 

Chap. X.] Relief s and Inscriptions of Athenian Tombs. 323 

father's name, and his deme or township ; in the case of a 
woman, her name, that of her father, husband, or husband 
and father, with their respective demes. Of the numerous 
epitaphs which remain, perhaps nine out of ten are of 
this simple character. Sometimes they accompany reliefs 
of an elaborate character, or are placed on tombs of great 
size and pretensions. Than such an epitaph nothing could 
possibly offend less against good taste, and it was pro- 
bably thought somewhat sentimental and gushing at 
Athens to indulge in a longer metrical sepulchral in- 
scription. When longer inscriptions occur, they seldom 
bear much sign either of taste or education. Their 
grammar is often doubtful, and, when in metre, they 
halt terribly. They clearly belong to the same class of 
compositions as the lame verses which abound in English 

In the case of very early reliefs we find usually not 
only the name of the dead, but also of the artist who 
did the work. In later times this custom dropped, and 
we have scarcely in any case a clue to the name of 
the sculptor. This fact is the more curious- inasmuch 
as in other remains of antiquity, such as gems and coins, 
to insert the artist's name becomes more usual as we 
approach the best time of art. Not many epitaphs of 
an earlier period than the year B.C. 400 are preserved, nor 
are these, except in the case of public tombs, of special 
importance. One is interesting to students of epigraphy 
as it bears an exact date, the year B.C. 430, when the 
plague, following in the wake of the Peloponnesian army, 
invaded Attica : " I am the tomb of Myrina, who died 
of the plague." Another, of an ordinary Attic type, has 
a grace and charm which is seldom absent from the 
earlier productions of Attica : — 

" Let the reader pass on, be he citizen or stranger from 
afar, having pitied for a moment a brave man who fell 

Y 2 

324 New Chapters m Greek History. [Chap. X. 

in battle and lost his young prime. Having shed a tear 
here, go by, and good go with you." 

To the period between the falling of Athens into 
Lysander's hands and the times of the Roman Anto- 
nines belongs the vast body of the epitaphs. A more 
exact chronological classification is neither easy, it being 
especially hard to determine the period of those inscrip- 
tions which are not accompanied by reliefs, nor necessary. 
It is best to divide them into classes, not by a determina- 
tion of date, but rather by a consideration of drift and 
content, and to consider all as belonging to one long period, 
a period when the Athenian Empire had indeed passed 
away, and external conquests were not to be hoped for; 
but when Athens still ruled in the realm of mind and 
attracted to herself the flower of the culture of Hellas 
and the world. I have already said that the commonest 
sort of inscriptions comprised only the name of the dead, 
his father's name, and that of his deme. But not unfre- 
quently a few words of comment were added. The 
person who paid for the erection of the tomb liked to 
see some record of his liberality. Thus a stone marks 
the spot where " His sons buried Julius Zosimianus, the 
head of the School of Zeno," that is, the head of the 
Stoics of Athens. Another records that " Polystratus 
set up this portrait in memory of his brother." We 
frequently find the trade or calling of the deceased 
mentioned in his epitaph. One Heracleides is stated 
to have been the greatest master of the catapult, a war- 
like machine which seems to have required some skill 
in the handling. Many other trades are mentioned in 
connection with the dead. One was a bathing-man, 
another a mid-wife and physician, another a 'priestess 
of the all-producing Mother, probably Cybele, another 
second in rank in joyous comedy, another a bull-fighter. 
On one tomb the record ends quaintly, after mentioning 

Chap. X.] Reliefs and Inscriptions of Athenian Tombs. 325 

that the grave contained one or two named persons, with 
the phrase, "also the others who are represented in the 
relief," where the stonemason or his instructor seems to 
have grown tired of a bare list of names, and stopped 
short in the midst. 

The longer inscriptions which are found on Attic 
gravestones, if we except only the class of minatory or 
deprecatory epitaphs, which I reserve to the last, are in 
metre. To this rule there are few, if any, exceptions, so 
that the ancient epitaph-writer could at least, unlike the 
modern, claim the saeva necessitas as a reason for at- 
tempting a metrical composition. I shall, however, ren- 
der into English prose rather than verse the specimens 
of these selected for purposes of illustration, as it would 
convey quite a false impression if I were to disguise 
their oddities and crudities under the smooth mantle of 
English heroic verse. 

The metrical epitaphs are of four kinds. Those of the 
first kind are in the form of a dialogue between the dead 
and the surviving friend, or in some cases of a mere direct 
address to the dead. The simplest form which such an 
address can take is the %p'»7o-Te %at/3e — " Farewell, lost 
friend " — which is so usual on tombs of a certain period, 
but which does not, apparently, appear on any which 
belonged certainly to an Athenian. Of this simple and 
touching phrase we find a number of metrical amplifica- 
tions : — 

" Farewell, tomb of MeHt6 ; the best of women lies here, 
who loved her loving husband, Onesimus ; thou wast most 
excellent, wherefore he longs for thee after thy death, for 
thou wast the best of wives. Farewell, thou too, dearest 
husband, only love my children." 

But an inscription of this kind is necessarily of a late 
period, and but little in accord with the canon of fashion- 
able taste. More usual and less emotional is the following. 

326 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. x. 

which details a conversation not with the dead, but with 
his tomb : — " Whose tomb are we to call thee ? That of 
famous Nepos. And who of the children of Cecrops 
begat him ? say. He was not of the land of Cecrops, but 
from Thrace." Another epitaph, after proceeding in 
verse, suddenly breaks into prose ; " And if you seek my 
name, I am Theogeiton, son of Thymochus of Thebes." 
Of course it is quite natural that the tombstone should 
thus speak in the first person in the name and on behalf 
of the deceased. In some of our commonest English 
epitaphs such as "Affliction sore long time I bore," we 
find the same peculiarity ; but that a grave-stone should 
give information in reply to cross-questioning is less usual. 

The second kind of metrical inscriptions, which is by 
far the most numerous, speaks of the past life and his- 
tory of the deceased. Thus over the grave of a soldier 
we find : — 

"Of thy valour stands many a trophy in Greece and 
in the souls of men ; such wast thou, Nicobulus, when 
thou leftest the bright light of the sun and passedst, 
beloved of thy friends, to the dwelling of Persephone." 

Other triumphs besides warlike ones are elsewhere 
recorded ; on the tomb of one Praxinus, the doer, we 
read the punning epitaph : — 

"My name and my father's this stone proclaims, and 
my country ; but by my worthy deeds I attained such a 
name as few may obtain." 

We are not aware in this case to what special kind 
of deeds the inscription refers ; often it is more explicit 
as in the following, erected over a young statuary : — 

" I began to flourish as a statuary not inferior to 
Praxiteles, and came to twice eight years of age. My 
name was Eutychides,* but that name fate mocked, 
tearing me so early away to Hades." 
* Child of good luck. 

Chap. X.] Relief s and Inscriptions of Athenian Tombs. 327 

On the tomb of one Plutarchus, who seems to have 
been a merchant, we find a brief history of his hfe : — 

"This is the tomb of the discreet Plutarchus, who, 
desiring fame which comes of many toils, came to 
Ausonia. There he endured toils on toils far from 
his country, although an only child and dear to his 
parents. Yet gained he not his desire, though long- 
ing much, for first the fate of unlovely death reached 

Sometimes out of a whole life one event or circumstance 
of peculiar interest was taken, and commemorated as well 
by inscription as relief, as in the case of that Phoenician 
stranger already mentioned who narrowly escaped the 
jaws of a lion. The inscription on his tomb describes 
that escape, and explains the meaning of the representa- 
tion it accompanies. 

The virtues of the dead must always in all countries 
form the most frequent and suitable subject of sepulchral 
inscriptions. Athens is no exception to the rule. We 
find on the grave of a young man : — 

" Here Euthycritus, having reached the goal of every 
virtue, lies entombed in his native soil, dear to father and 
mother, and loved by his sisters and all his companions, 
in the prime of his life." 

A copper-smelter from Crete has the simple and pleas- 
ing epitaph : — 

" This memorial to Sosinous, of his justice, his prudence, 
and his virtue, his sons erected on his death." 

The following is from the tomb of one Sotius : — 

" Here in earth lies Sotius, superior to all in the art 
he practised, virtuous of soul, and dear to his fellow- 
citizens ; for ever he studied to please all, and his heart 
was most just towards his friends." 

Such are a few of the panegyrics bestowed on 
men after their death ; those bestowed on women are 

328 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. X. 

fewer in number, but not less interesting. A young 
girl is commended for her serious and staid dis- 
position : — 

" She who lies here coveted not, while alive, garments 
or gold, but desired discretion and virtue. But now, 
Dionysia, in place of youth and bloom, the fates have 
awarded thee this sepulchre." 

More than once we find epitaphs which speak of the 
virtue and kindness of nurses, evidently set up by young 
men who had never ceased to care for and respect 
them. The ancients evidently felt for the wet-nurse who 
cherished their infancy, slave as she might be, something 
of lasting and filial affection : — 

" Here is laid in earth the best of nurses, whose foster- 
child still misses her. I loved thee, nurse, when alive, 
and still I honour thee though thou art laid in the ground, 
and shall honour as long as I live." 

More characteristic of the Greek disposition than mere 
praise of the dead are those praises of the good fortune 
of the departed, which sound almost mocking to modern 
ears, and yet on a little reflection do not displease. Of 
one Symmachus, of Chios, we read on his tomb that 
through life his joys were many and his sorrows few, 
that he reached the extreme limit of old age, and lies 
in Athens, the city dear to gods and men. On the tombs 
of women it is often stated that they were in comfortable 
circumstances, and that they lived to see their children's 
children. All the happiness of past life seemed to the 
Greeks a gain, and even when it was over was to be re- 
garded, not with bitter regret, but gentle sympathy. In 
one inscription, though a late one, we find an elaborate 
description of the beauty of the young wife buried below, 
of her yellow hair, her bright eyes, her snow-white 
forehead, the ruddy lips and ivory teeth of her lovely 
mouth. These things were past, it is true, but even so 

Chap. X.] Relief s and Inscriptions of Athenian Tombs. 329 

they were something better to look back upon than 

Sometimes, however, through the general level of cheeri- 
ness a sadder note breaks : — 1 

" My name is Athenals, and with grief I go to my 
place among the dead, leaving my husband and my 
darling children. A grudging web the Fates spun for 

When youthful promise is early cut off it is scarcely 
possible that it should be spoken of without a sound of 
sad regret. Even the statement of the fact produces this 
impression : — 

"If fortune had continued thy life, Macareus, and 
brought thee to manhood, strong wast thou in the hope 
that thou wouldst become the guiding spirit of tragic art 
among the Hellenes. But thou diest not without fame 
for discretion and virtue." 

Even here consolation comes in to modify regret, so 
true to the happy disposition of the Greeks is the 
charming saying of Spenser, " A dram of sweete is worth 
a pound of sowre ! " 

As in sepulchral reliefs, so in epitaphs, the Greek 
mourner usually turns his thought to the past, and 
dwells on the life which is over rather than on any which 
may be beginning. Nevertheless we do find, here and 
there, some allusions to the state of the departed which 
are of great interest, and which furnish us with evidence 
on a subject still obscure and much discussed, the beliefs 
of the ordinary minds among the Greeks as to the future 
life, and as to reward and punishment in it. The small 
space which these allusions occupy, compared with the 
whole body of epitaphs, shows how small a corner of 
Athenian thought was taken up with meditation on 
matters outside the present life. This was, as we shall 
see in the next chapter, less the case in Dorian and 

330 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. x. 

North Greek cities. But the materiahsm of the Greeks 
was rather natural and practical than speculative, and 
we nowhere find any positive denial of future existence. 
In one or two epitaphs there is an appearance of 
such denial, but its meaning must not be pressed. 
Thus, in one case, we find the phrase, " Rising out of 
earth I am become earth again," and in another epitaph, 
one Nicomedes, who calls himself the servant of the 
Muses, says that he is " clad in wakeless sleep." Here 
we probably only have popular phrases used in a vague 
and indefinite sense, and without the least intention of 
theorizing on the nature of the soul. Commoner still are 
even more vague phrases as to the destination of the soul, 
which is said to fly to heaven, to air, or to aether.* It 
is aether which is said in the metrical inscription first 
quoted to receive the souls of the slain Athenian warriors. 
So in the following : — 

" Here Dialogus, student of wisdom, his limbs purged 
with pure fire, is gone to the immortals. Here lie naked 
the bones of I Dialogus the discreet, who practised virtue 
and wisdom ; them a little dust hides sprinkled over 
them ; but the spirit from his limbs the broad heaven 
has received." 

Dialogus was presumably a philosopher and had 
learned the difference between soul and body. The 
words, heaven and the immortals, have to him a some- 
what vague meaning, representing rather something 
hoped for than believed in and expected. There is a 
stronger flavour of philosophic materialism in the follow- 
ing : — " Damp aether holds the soul and mighty intel- 
lect of Eurymachus, but his body is in this tomb." The 
word al6r]p, aether, is certainly used by Homer to signify 
the abode of the gods, and no doubt the poet of our 
metrical inscription had Homer in his mind, but here 

* oiipavos, aWrip. 

Chap. X.] Relief s and Inscriptions of Athenian Tombs. 331 

the word " damp " (v'yp6<;) seems to point to some 
materialist notion as to the nature of spirit and its 
affinity to the upper air. A more popular interpretation 
must be accepted in other cases, such as : " Earth sent 
thee forth to light, Sibyrtius, and earth holds thy re- 
mains, but aether, the source of thy soul, has received it 

But the vulgar notions with regard to the future state 
were certainly borrowed from Homer, sucked in by the 
many with their mothers' milk, or at latest imbibed at 
school, where Homer occupied the place taken by the 
Bible in our Church schools. The Greeks generally were 
inclined to regard Homer as infallible, and so, when 
they thought of the future state at all, pictured it ac- 
cording to his teaching. Hence they made it a shadowy 
realm under the government of Hades and Persephone, 
a poor washed-out copy of the brilliant life on earth. 
The dead go to the chamber of Persephone, or, as it is 
sometimes phrased, the chamber of the blessed. " The 
bones and the flesh of our sweet son lie in earth, but his 
soul is gone to the chamber of the holy." It is clear, 
from some other inscriptions, that in that chamber re- 
wards were supposed to await the good, and punishments 
the bad. Thus one man writes on the grave of his 
nurse, "And I know that, if below the earth there be 
rewards for the good, for thee, nurse, more than for any, 
is honour waiting in the abode of Persephone and Pluto." 
The suggestive if is again repeated elsewhere. " If there 
is with Persephone any reward for piety, a share of that 
was bestowed on thee in death by Fate." The expres- 
sion in both instances seems to be rather of a wish or 
longing than of a sure and certain hope. 

Indeed, this wavering tone never becomes full and 
confident until we come down to the times of Christian 
inscriptions, when a sudden and marvellous change takes 

332 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. x. 

place. To the Christian the place of interment is no 
longer a tomb, but a sleeping-place. When he speaks 
of aether and heaven as receiving the soul, the words 
have quite another ring. Though Christian epitaphs at 
Athens be somewhat beyond my province, I cannot 
avoid introducing one or two, if merely for the sake of 
contrast. The following charmingly combines the genial 
backward glance of the Greek with the forward glance 
of the Christian : — 

" Look, friend, on the sacred beauty of Asclepiodota, 
of her immortal soul and body, for to both nature gave 
one undefiled beauty, and if Fate seized her it van- 
quished her not ; in her death she was not forsaken, nor 
did she abandon her husband though she left him, but 
now more than ever watches him out of heaven, and 
rejoices in him and guards him." 

Or take another : — 

" His body is hidden here in earth, but his soul is 
escaped to Heaven {alOrjp) and returned to its source, 
for he has obtained the reward of the best of lives." 

Sometimes one catches a note of a still higher strain : 
" There, whence pain and moans are banished, take thy 
rest." I think no one can deny that these epitaphs are 
quite equal to the pagan ones in literary taste and feli- 
city of language, while in sentiment they mark a striking 

It would have been natural to expect that the religion 
of Isis, which among all ancient faiths clung most closely 
to the belief in a future life, and which owed to that 
circumstance its great influence among the later Greeks, 
would have left in the epitaphs some traces of a surer 
hope and trust in what was beyond the grave. But such 
is not the case ; and a still more remarkable omission is 
to be noticed. The great Eleusinian mysteries were cele- 
brated annually, within a few miles of Athens. The 

Chap. X.] Reliefs and Inscriptions of Athenian Tombs. 333 

whole population must have known more or less of the 
meaning of the ceremonies ; and there were probably few 
adult Athenians who had not been initiated. But it has 
always been supposed that the continuance of the dead 
and the life to come were the chief matters on which 
light was thrown during the celebration. It has been 
thought that the analogy between the sowing of wheat 
and the burying of the dead, that analogy which the 
Apostle Paul works out in full detail, was then insisted 
on. Cicero speaks of the mysteries of Eleusis as some 
of the noblest productions of Attic soil, and declares 
that they impart not only directions for leading a better 
life, but also a better hope in death. Polygnotus painted 
on the walls of the Lesche at Delphi the punishments 
suffered in Hades by those who neglected to have them- 
selves initiated in the mysteries. Yet in all the Attic 
epitaphs which have come down to us, we discern not a 
trace of any such doctrine as we should have been dis- 
posed, from such indications, to attribute to the College 
of Priests who conducted the mysteries. When the next 
world is at all spoken of, it either appears as the 
Homeric realm of Hades and his bride Persephone, or 
else is mentioned in the vague language of the philoso- 
phers as aether and heaven. The conclusion seems in- 
evitable. We are strongly warned against attributing 
too much influence over the ordinary mind, or any very 
lofty and spiritual teaching, to the mysteries. The wise 
men, like Cicero and Plutarch, may have found in them 
deep meaning and profound consolation, reading into 
them the results of their own philosophy and faith ; 
just as some writers of recent times have read into them 
most of the doctrines of Christianity. But to the 
common people they were probably a string of outward 
observances with little inner meaning. Like the sacra- 
ments of Christianity, to which in many respects they 

334 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. x. 

were parallel, they had a strong tendency to lose all life 
and become mere form. That their secret was so well 
preserved can be attributed to but one cause — that their 
secret, such as it was, was not of a kind that could be 
communicated. It is certain that throughout Greece, in 
antiquity, the future life was by the common people 
looked upon with distaste, if not with dread ; and that 
they had no doctrine tending to soften its repulsion. 

Moral reflections and words of advice form a not un- 
frequent ending to Athenian epitaphs. Sometimes in 
these nothing more is expressed than a kindly wish for 
the reader. Thus one stranger after stating that he was 
shipwrecked, adds in genial spirit, "May every sailor 
safely reach his home ! " Another wishes for all way- 
farers who read the stone a prosperous journey. Some- 
times there is a general observation : " It is rare for a 
woman to be at once noble and discreet ; " or a quota- 
tion from a poet, as in the case of the well-known line, 
"Those whom the gods love die early." Sometimes 
the occasion is improved, as a Scotch minister would 
say, and a little sermon read to the passer-by, who is 
advised to live virtuously, " knowing that the abode of 
Pluto beneath is full of wealth and has need of nothing," 
— virtues, that is to say, and not riches, are the only 
things which will avail after death. 

So far with regard to metrical inscriptions. The long 
inscriptions which are not metrical are nearly always of 
the same kind as the well-known epitaph of Shake- 
speare, — curses pronounced against those who shall in 
future time attempt to move or destroy the grave, curses 
of which the modern explorer makes very light, ap- 
parently supposing that their virtue has in the course 
of centuries departed. But in ancient time they might 
be more effectual. They are always of a very late date ; 
so long as the people of Athens had a common feeling 

Chap. X.] Relief s and Inscriptions of Athenian Tombs. 335 

and a common pride in their city there was small fear 
of the violation of the grave of a citizen, but under the 
Roman Emperors the Athenian citizenship and Greek 
nationality fell to pieces, and no one felt sure of the 
future. Herodes Atticus, the wealthiest citizen of Athens 
in the reign of Hadrian, who built the Athenians a 
splendid marble Odeum, set up a monument to his wife 
Appia Annia Regilla, " the light of the house," which he 
thought it necessary to fence by a very unpleasant string 
of threats. 

" By the gods and heroes I charge any who hold this 
place not to move aught of this : and if any destroy or 
alter these statues and honours (rt/^a?), for him may 
earth refuse to bear fruit, and sea become unsailable, 
and may he and his race perish miserably ! " 

The inscription goes on to heap blessings on those who 
keep the tomb in its place and pay it honour. A lady 
who bears the Roman name of Antonia hands over, 
in her epitaph, her tomb to keep to Pluto and Demeter 
and Persephone and all the nether gods, calling down a 
curse on all who violate it. In another epitaph we find 
a formidable list of diseases which are likely to seize 
the violator — palsy, fever, ague, elephantiasis, and the 
rest. In another instance the dimensions of the curse 
are curtailed, and it is put neatly into two hexameter 
verses, "Move not the stone from the earth, villain, lest 
after thy death, wretch, dogs mangle thy unburied body." 

In the last-quoted epitaph it is evidently the writer's 
intention to threaten a punishment according to the lex 
talionis. To move a tombstone was an offence of the 
same class, though in degree of course slighter, as to 
leave the body of a dead man unburied. It is well- 
known how keenly every Greek dreaded that his body 
should after his death be deprived of burial-rites, and 
how bitterly he condemned all who through fear or 

336 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. x. 

carelessness abandoned dead friends to dogs and vul- 
tures. No doubt this dread was connected with the 
very ancient and widespread notion that those who re- 
mained unburied could not rest in the grave, were re- 
pelled from the gates of the world of spirits, and hovered 
as unhappy ghosts in the vicinity of their corpses. As 
the first step towards exposing a dead body was the 
tearing down of the stone which covered it, and as the 
stone was moreover closely associated with the dead,, 
some of the mysterious horror which guarded the corpse 
was transferred to the gravestone above it. We may 
consider ourselves happy that among us gravestones are 
protected not by curses but by blessings, by cherished 
memories and associations ; and so perhaps it was in the 
better times at Athens ; only when the old civilisation was 
falling into corruption, all gentler ties were loosed, and 
every man fought for himself and his, with any weapons 
which came nearest. 

One closes the Corpus of Sepulchral Inscriptions with a 
feeling of surprise ; surprise that a people so gifted as 
the Athenians should be so helpless and tongue-tied in 
the presence of death. The reliefs do not disappoint a 
reasonable expectation ; in taste at least they put our 
modern cemeteries to shame, if the range of ideas ex- 
pressed is somewhat narrow. But the inscriptions are at 
a far greater depth below Greek poetry and oratory than 
the reliefs are below the best Greek sculpture. The 
reason may partly be that the reliefs are the work of 
professionals, the inscriptions of amateurs. But there 
are two other reasons of a more satisfactory character. 
The first of these I have already mentioned, that except 
in the case of soldiers and of public characters, such as 
eminent poets, it was considered in bad taste at Athens 
to have an epitaph at all ; those, therefore, which we find 
are mostly written by persons of the less respectable 

Chap. X.] Reliefs and Inscriptions of Athenian Tombs. 337 

classes, and in the later and worse times of the city. 
But the deepest reason, at least from the modern point 
of view, is that the Greek mind found in death no in- 
spiring force; they might regard its inevitable power 
with equanimity and even cheerfulness, but in any way 
to rejoice in its presence, to look upon it with hope and 
warmth of heart, did not consist with the point of view 
of their religion. Such feelings at such a time are in- 
spired only by one or two religions of the world, among 
which there is no place for naturalism. 

338 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XI. 



In no class of ancient monuments have more extensive 
or more important discoveries been made of late than in 
the class of sepulchral monuments, so that we have now 
to revise in fresh light our opinions of a few years ago. 
In some respects we have altogether to remodel those 
opinions. So rapid is in our days the growth of Greek 
archaeological science, that every year consigns to limbo 
some dictum of the older school of archaeologists, who 
laid down rules as to Greek art with all the courage of 
limited experience. 

But the chief discoveries of sepulchral reliefs have been 
made outside Attica. Nothing has appeared to throw 
doubt on the thesis, set forth in the last chapter and 
firmly established by the discovery of the great Athenian 
cemetery by the gate Dipylon, that in sculpturing their 
tombs the minds of the Athenians exhibited a strong 
tendency to look backwards rather than forwards, to 
dwell on the life which finds its termination in the grave, 
rather than on that which there begins. But we now 
know that the custom of referring only to the life of the 
past was not by any means universally observed in the 
subjects painted and sculptured on Greek tombs. It was 

* The subject of this paper is treated more in detail, and with 
citation of authorities, in an article entitled A Sepulchral Relief from 
Tarentutn, by the present writer, in the Journal of Hellenic Studies 
for 1884. 

Chap. XL] Spartan Tombs and the Cultus of the Dead. 339 

the line taken by the high art of Athens and other great 
cities ; indeed, it best suited the instincts of all Greek 
art, to which all that was vague and mystic was re- 
pulsive and ugly. But it did not altogether satisfy the 
emotions and beliefs of the common people, especially 
in the more backward cities of Hellas, and among con- 
servative races like the Dorians and Arcadians. They 
did not believe that human life ended at the grave, and 
they did not content themselves with representations 
which seemed to imply that such was the case. They 
loved to think of and represent their dead ancestors as 
still living. 

In the year 1877 Messrs. Dressel and Milchhoefer, then 
members of the German school of Athens, wandering 
through Peloponnese in the laudable fashion of German 
students, and eagerly looking out for works of ancient 
art, lighted at Sparta upon some very remarkable monu- 
ments then recently exhumed. These were certain stelae 
or slabs, bearing a relief which represented two persons, a 
man and a woman, enthroned side by side, and depicted 
in a very archaic style of art. The man usually holds a 
wine-cup, and the woman grasps the end of her veil. A 
snake appears close behind the pair, and sometimes there 
are depicted as approaching them with offerings, votaries, 
whom their diminutive size shows to be of far less dignity 
than the principal figures. It was at once evident to the 
discoverers of these slabs that the subject depicted on them 
was the offering of sacrifices to a male and female deity. 
But, as is so often the case with new and important 
discoveries, the whole bearing of the reliefs was not at 
first seen. Two theories were at once mooted in regard 
to them. One set of archaeologists saw in the seated 
male figure holding the wine-cup the god Dionysus, and 
in his consort either Ariadne, or perhaps Persephone, 
who was in some parts of Greece regarded as the wife 

z 2 

340 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. xl. 

of the Chthonic Dionysus. Other archaeologists preferred 
to consider the pair as Hades and Persephone, the great 
deities of the unseen world, and supposed that the in- 
tention was to represent sacrifices brought to them by 
mortals as a propitiation, and in hopes to secure their 
favour in the world of shades. Messrs. Dressel and 
Milchhoefer accepted at first the view last mentioned, 
and adduced several arguments in its favour. They 
pointed out the prevalence of the worship of Hades 
and the great goddesses of nature in several parts of 
Peloponnesus, particularly at Andania in Messenia, and 
in Arcadia, and tried to show that the character of the 
offerings was well fitted to the cultus of these dread 
powers of the future world. The wine-cup in the hand 
of Hades they regarded as a substitute for the horn which 
he more commonly carries. 

This view, though incorrect, was at the time very 
natural. But very shortly a number of monuments of a 
similar kind were brought to light in other parts of the 
Peloponnesus and of Northern Greece, which made it 
impossible longer to doubt of the true meaning of the 
Spartan stelae. 

For instance, at Sparta two slabs were discovered which 
had certainly served as tombstones, and bore the names 
of Timocles and Aristocles respectively. On each of these 
was represented a seated male figure, holding wine-cup 
and pomegranate. Here the representation was evidently 
of the man who was buried in the tomb. And in other 
cases the person thus seated is female, in some cases 
holding a pomegranate or feeding a serpent from a cup. 

These fresh instances have suggested for the earlier- 
found and better-known Spartan reliefs a new interpre- 
tation which is, I believe, universally accepted. The pair 
seated in state must be the deceased hero or ancestor 
and his wife. They await the offerings of their desceu- 

Chap. XI.] Spartan Tombs and the Cultus of the Dead. 341 

dants and votaries, who bring them such objects as were 
in Greece commonly offered to the dead — fowls, and eggs, 
and pomegranates. The snake who accompanies them 
is the well-known companion and servant of the dead. 

We find, then, in Peloponnesus and in other parts of 
Greece, in quite early times, abundant monuments testi- 
fying to the prevalence of a widely-spread cultus of the 
dead. We have proof that not only did the gods, and 
those heroes of old who had almost stepped into the 
rank of the gods, receive worship and sacrifice in the 
temples and houses of the Greeks, but also ordinary 
human beings after their death. In text-books which 
deal with Greek antiquities we had already read of these 
customs, but they had hitherto been supposed to have 
left little trace in literature and in art. Men well ac- 
quainted with Greek history and customs had often 
scarcely heard of them or given them a thought. But 
now the evidences of the customs of veKvcna in Greece 
need no longer be sought in writers of Alexandrian 
times and in inscriptions. They are thrust under the 
eyes of all who gain but a superficial acquaintance with 
Greek art. It is not too much to say that the new 
discoveries are to archaeologists quite a revelation, and 
of the greatest value to those who care to study the 
origin and the history of religious belief. 

We will briefly set forth the Greek beliefs on the sub- 
ject of the life after death, and next, give a general view 
of the Greek sepulchral monuments which illustrate those 

An idea which commonly prevails among barbarous 
peoples as to the life after death is, that it is in essentials 
merely a continuation of the ordinary mundane existence. 
When alive the warrior requires a house, when dead he 
must be sheltered in a' tomb ; and the form and arrange- 
ments of early tombs often follow those of the house 

342 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XI. 

When alive the warrior requires food ; when he is dead 
food must still be brought to him in his new abode. He 
must have drink also, and pleasant smells, lamps to light 
his darkness, and abundant vesture and armour for him to 
wear. As hunting was the principal pleasure in life, so in 
the life after death the warrior must have all things neces- 
sary for the chase. His horse and his dog must be slain 
and buried with him, that they may continue their ser- 
vices to their master. His wife must also attend his 
steps to the new state of existence ; and enemies must 
be slain at the spot where he is buried, in order that he 
may have slaves to do his behests in the future as in the 

This general statement is fully borne out by the testi- 
mony afforded by the graves of ancient peoples. The 
walls of Egyptian tombs are painted with innumerable 
scenes of public and religious and private life — scenes 
like those amid which the dead man had passed his days. 
To the real scenes the paintings bore a similar resem- 
blance to that which the shadowy life of the tomb bore 
to the real life of the flesh. The interior of Etruscan 
tombs is adorned with scenes of revelry, of amusement, 
and sport, to glad the eyes of the hero hovering within 
and disperse his ennui ; and in these tombs are found 
the bones of the warrior's horse and dog which were slain 
to bear him company on the last journey. In early 
Greek graves are found armour and vestments, cups and 
vases, weapons and utensils. The writer will not easily 
lose the sense that the Greeks at one time really be- 
lieved in this life of the tomb which flashed upon him 
when, in turning over the spoils found by Dr. Schliemann 
in the tombs of Mycenae, he came upon a whetstone, 
actually put among the swords that their edge might be 
renewed when blunted with use. 

In the later times of the Egyptians and the Greeks 

Chap. XI.] Spartan Tombs and the Cultus of the Dead. 343 

this naive faith died away, and was replaced by beliefs 
of a more worthy and spiritual kind. Men came to be- 
lieve in a realm of souls far away beyond the desert or 
hidden in the depths of the earth, and presided over by 
mighty and just rulers. They began to feel that it was 
the soul only that survived death, and that it did not 
stay at the tomb, but went on a long journey, and abode 
far from descendant and townsman. But we find always 
in history that customs outlast the beliefs which gave 
birth to them, and often survive into quite a different 
state of opinion. So it was in this case. The burial 
customs which arose when the grave was supposed to be 
a real abode were kept up when the soul was believed 
entirely to quit the body at death. It was still in the 
tomb that provision for the future life was heaped up. 
It was in the actual mouth of the corpse that the fee for 
Charon, the ferryman, was placed. It was to the very 
place of burial that offerings were brought on the all 
souls' days of antiquity. . The logical complement of the 
later doctrine of Hades would have been to regard as 
immaterial what happened to the body after death. But 
this was a point never reached by ancient nations ; they 
always regarded want of burial of the body as fatal to the 
bliss of the soul in Hades. 

Changes did, however, take place in burial customs in 
consequence of the growing discordance between them 
and popular belief. They were still maintained, but in 
more and more perfunctory and unreal fashion. The 
arms and ornaments buried with the dead became flimsier 
and less fit for use. Every archaeologist knows that 
sometimes the graves of Greece and Etruria contain the 
mere pretence of offerings : gold ornaments as thin as 
paper ; loaves and fruits of terra-cotta ; weapons unfit for 
use, and vases of the most unserviceable kind. " In sacris 
simulata pro veris accipi," wrote Servius ; and in no class 

344 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XI. 

of sacred rites does hollow pretence more commonly take 
the place of reality than in those connected with funerals 
and tombs. 

Such, in merest outline, is the history of Greek beliefs 
as to the life beyond the grave during the course of the 
historical ages. And if we examine a few examples of 
the various groups of sepulchral monuments to be found 
in various parts of Hellas, we shall find ample illustration 
of our sketch. 

Among the earliest of Greek sculptured tombstones are 
those Spartan reliefs of which mention has already been 
made. In them we see the departed ancestor and ances- 
tress seated like gods to receive the homage of survivors. 
When the seated hero holds out a wine-cup, it seems 
a broad hint to survivors to fill it. Accordingly, in 
Boeotian and other reliefs, we actually see a female 
figure approaching to fill from a pitcher the extended 
vessel. And upon Greek graves there commonly lay, as 
we learn from the testimony of excavations, an amphora 
of coarse ware to receive the doles of wine brought to 
the cemetery. The food brought by suppliants on the 
Peloponnesian stelae consists of eggs and fowls, and more 
especially the pomegranate. This last seems to have 
been the recognised food of the shades. Hades gives it 
to his stolen bride, Persephone ; and she, by eating it, 
becomes incapable of quitting the place of the dead to 
return to her bright existence in the upper air. And 
to this day pomegranate seeds are one element in the 
sweet cakes which are made to be distributed by those 
who have lost a friend, at certain intervals after his death, 
cakes evidently representing those bestowed in old times 
on the lost friend himself. 

This realism of offerings to the dead naturally suggests 
to us that the idea of offerings of food and wine to the 
deities themselves arose from the transfer to them of 

Chap. XI.] Spartan Tombs and the Cultus of the Dead. 345 

ideas originally connected with dead mortals. In his- 
torical times the Greeks made wide distinction between 
the offerings to deities and those brought to heroes, both 
as to time and mode and as to the objects sacrificed ; 
but this distinction is not fundamental, and we cannot 
help looking on the whole custom of sacrifice as one 
imported into the cultus of deities from that of the dead. 
It is not unusual to represent deities also in sculpture as 
holding out a cup or vessel, and it seems clear that what- 
ever meaning the Greeks attached to the action in later 
times, it must in earlier have signified a readiness to 
receive offerings. Great sculptors substituted for this 
action, which to them seemed trivial or mean, some 
higher motive, placing a Victory or a sceptre in the 
hands of the greater divinities ; but in case of some of 
the lesser, such as '^v'^t), Fortune, the patera remained to 
the end a not unusual attribute. 

The snake which is erect behind the pair stands in a 
very intimate relation to the dead. His habit of dwelling 
in holes in those rocky spots which the Greeks chose for 
their cemeteries, amid which he mysteriously appeared and 
disappeared, originated the idea that he was either the 
companion or even the impersonation of the dead (in- 
certus geniumne loci famulumne parentis esse putet*) ; 
and the idea was fostered by the manners of the reptile, 
his shyness when approached, and the wisdom and sub- 
tilty attributed to him by the ancients. It is curious to 
find, in other reliefs, the horse and the dog in the place 
of the snake. Their presence, indeed, is not in itself 
surprising. They have their place beside their master in 
the sculpture by the same right by which their bones 
were laid beside his in the grave. As they died with 
him and are his companions in the fields of Elysium, so 
they swell his state when he sits to receive homage and 
* Aeneid, v. 95. 

34^ New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XI. 

offerings. Yet it is somewhat strange to find horse and 
dog, which imply a free and open Hfe of hunting and 
amusement, alternately with the sad and cold serpent, 
which belongs to no happy hunting-ground, but to the 
rocky soil of the cemetery. 

Such being the symbolism of Spartan tombs, we 
naturally inquire with what purpose these designs were 
sculptured. With us a gravestone is merely a reminder, 
placed on the spot where some of our friends are laid, 
and intended to awake in the survivors memories, sad, 
indeed, yet touched with a certain melancholy pleasure, 
since it can never be altogether sorrowful to think of 
those we have loved, even after their departure. 

But we are accustomed, it must be remembered, to 
look upon images as mere works of art, and quite with- 
out associations of worship. The Greeks, on the other 
hand, being idolators — that is to say, accustomed to assist 
their religious sentiments by images of the gods in 
painting and in sculpture — were accustomed also to con- 
sider the presence of the gods as especially belonging 
to their images. And there can be no doubt that they 
carried the same associations to the reliefs on the tombs 
of their ancestors. They regarded those worthies as 
distinct, of course, from the images of them on the tombs, 
and yet they supposed that there was a bond of con- 
nection between the two, and that the soul of the de- 
ceased ancestor was present in the carving on his tomb 
as he was not present elsewhere. These reliefs, then, 
are in a sense the idols of the domestic worship of the 
Greeks, or at least of the less civilised tribes among them, 
and were never looked upon without a touch of religious 

A series of monuments beginning at a scarcely later 
date than the Spartan stelae is that of the Lycian rock-cut 
tombs of the Xanthus valley. Some of these are elabo- 

Chap. XI.] Spartan Tombs and the Ctiltus of tlte Dead. 347 

rate architectural monuments, adorned with a profusion 
of sculpture, and of great importance for the history of 
art. But all these monuments, including the Harpy tomb, 
the Nereid monument, and the hereon recently discovered 
at Gyol Bashi, served undoubtedly as memorials of chiefs 
or kings buried beneath them. The sculptured friezes 
which adorn them embody sometimes heroic or local 
myths. Sometimes, as in the case of the Nereid monu- 
ment, they seem to commemorate historical deeds and 
expeditions. But certainly, in several instances, they 
bear reliefs representing the buried ruler as enthroned 
in state, waiting to receive the homage of survivors. As 
an instance, we may cite the pediment-sculptures of the 
well-known Nereid monument, now in the British Mu- 
seum. Here the presence of votaries suggests, and even 
proves, that the scene represented belongs to the life 
beyond the tomb, and not to the mundane existence of 
the buried king. 

German savants have of late advocated the theory that 
the mysterious seated figures, which adorn the beautiful 
archaic Lycian monument in the British Museum which 
is known as the Harpy tomb, are really deceased heroes 
and heroines seated to receive offerings from votaries who 
reverently approach them. Hitherto the sculptures of 
this lovely monument have offered a wide field for con- 
jectural explanations, some of a very fanciful character ; 
but without fully declaring in favour of the new inter- 
pretation, we must confess that it is far better in accord 
than are most others with the simplicity of early art, and 
the primitive beliefs which we have reason to attribute to 
the Lycian race. 

And in connection with these Peloponnesian and Lycian 
reliefs we must consider the large class of sepulchral 
reliefs .which represent a feast, and which reach us from 
all parts of Greece, especially from Athens, where they 

348 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. xi. 

form in the later period a group differing in character 
from the ordinary Attic grave-reliefs. 

We begin with a simple and ordinary class : Male 
figure reclining on couch ; at his feet seated female 
figure ; before the couch a tripod covered with eatables 
and drinkables, with a slave to serve them ; while the 
man is feasting, the woman commonly draws her veil 
about her. Or the male figure reclines alone. It is 
evident that here we have nothing to give a colour or a 
flavour to the scene ; the feast is to all appearance an 
every-day one. It is well known that the heroes of 
Homer sit at table ; and the custom of reclining came 
in at some time between the age of Homer and historical 
times. The custom never spread to women, at least. of 
the modest class, nor to boys. We are told that in 
Macedon boys were not allowed to recline at table until 
they had slain a boar, which sometimes did not happen 
until they were middle-aged ; Cassander for instance had 
to sit like a boy until he reached his thirty-fifth year. 
When men dined together in Greece modest women were 
not present ; but when a man dined at home his wife 
would naturally be present, not reclining with him, nor 
probably eating with him, but sitting by to entertain him 
with her talk while he dined. The group which I have 
described is therefore an ordinary scene from the private 
life of the Greeks. Sometimes the seated wife rests her 
head on her hand in an attitude which to the Greeks 
signified grief This may seem a jarring note at a feast; 
but we know that it was customary in Athenian grave- 
reliefs which represent scenes of daily life to introduce 
some such touch as this, to show that the beautiful 
picture has been spoiled by the hand of death, that it 
was not destined to last, and that already the shadow of 
coming change was thrown on to the happy scene. In 
the same way we may interpret another adjunct some- 

Chap. XI.] Spartan Tombs and the Cuttus of the Dead. 349 

times found in banqueting scenes which certainly come 
from actual tomb-stones, a snake twined round a tree in 
the background. 

So. far we find nothing to throw doubt on the theory 
of some writers that the daily banquet was introduced 
in sepulchral reliefs, from the same motives as other 
scenes of domestic life which so commonly appear on 
the tombs of Athens. What scene could be more 
characteristic of domestic felicity, what memory more 
pleasing to recall on a gravestone than these happy 
moments, when physical satisfaction of bodily needs 
went with pleasant talk and social enjoyment? 

We may even go further and say that to certain reliefs 
of the class, this view alone seems appropriate. For ex- 
ample, one of the earliest and most interesting among 
them is on a tomb in the celebrated Athenian cemetery 
on the Sacred Way.* It represents two men reclining 
on a couch, with food as usual set before them, and their 
two wives seated by ; in the foreground is a galley, in 
which is Charon with his hand extended towards the 
feasters. A comparison with other Athenian reliefs leads 
us to think that this banquet, at all events, is one of 
every-day life. The sudden appearance in the midst 
of social enjoyment of one empowered to summon to the 
next world is a striking fancy, rather in accordance, one 
would think, with the taste of the Etruscans than that 
of the Greeks, yet by no means unknown in Greek and 
even Athenian sepulchral rehefs. We may instance the 
well-known relief inscribed with the name Mvpplvif) where 
Hermes appearsf leading by the hand the girl Myrrhina 
from the midst of her family, to convey her to Hades. 

Indeed this simple explanation of the group is in al- 
most all cases tenable where the monument is of Athe- 

* Salinas, Momimer.ti Sepolcrali, PI. iv. 
f Ravaisson, Le monument de Myrrhine. 

350 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XI. 

nian provenience, and the relief belongs to an early 
period. But yet when we consider these banqueting 
reliefs as a class, and observe the frequency with which 
there occur on them some of those devices, the snake, 
the horse, the dog, which appear with full meaning on 
the early reliefs of Peloponnesus, we shall be disposed to 
think that the origin of them is to be connected with the 
memorials of Greek ancestor-worship, and that they em- 
body Peloponnesian rather than Athenian views. They 
seem to have reference to the customs already mentioned 
of bringing at stated times food and wine to the grave 
of the ancestor, a custom known to the Greeks under 
the name of ve.Kuaia and the origin of the modern custom 
of laying flowers on the graves of friends. 

And we thus see that the feelings which in pre-historic 
ages gave birth to the worship of ancestors never died 
out among the Hellenes. To the last days of their 
pagan life no subject was more commonly depicted 
on their tombs than the offerings to forefathers, and no 
custom was more religiously kept up than those relating 
to the periodical visitation of the dead. 

Dr. Milchhoefer, in an able paper on these banqueting 
reliefs,* has made an observation which is so good as to 
deserve special notice. They are , found, he observes, not 
usually in cemeteries, but in temples, especially the temples 
of Asclepius and other deities of healing. Thus they 
indicate that the custom of dedicating spots in great 
religious buildings to saints whose aid may be there 
sought by descendant or votary is no invention of the 
Christian church, but had a prototype in the customs of 
heathen Greece. 

In some minds the question may arise whether the 
Greeks, when they sculptured the feasts of the dead, 
supposed those feasts to take place in the tomb, at 
* Jahrbwch des Arch. Inst., 1887, p. 23. 

Chap. XI.] Spartan Tombs and the Cultus of the Dead. 3 5 1 

which they commonly deposited their offerings, or in 
Hades, the realm of the shades. This is a question 
which it is easier to ask than to answer ; indeed, it can- 
not be satisfactorily answered, for it is a matter in which 
the Greeks had never fully made up their minds. The 
gods dwelt in Olympus, yet they were also present on 
their temples. In the same way the dead were imagined 
to dwell in the world of shades, and yet they knew what 
took place at their tombs, and could enjoy the offerings 
there set out for them. The spot where a man's body 
is laid can never be entirely divorced from his person- 
ality. Do not we ourselves regard as sacred the spot 
where the body of a friend sleeps in death, although 
among us the idea of the distinctness of soul and body 
is far more clear and general than among the Greeks ? 
These are confusions of thought so deeply worked into 
the web of human nature that it may be doubted if they 
will ever be worked out of it. 

We moderns could easily understand that deities 
should be depicted as reclining on a couch to receive 
the homage of mankind. And we could understand 
that the banqueting-reliefs of tombs should be mere 
transcripts from ordinary daily life. But we find it very 
hard to understand how the Greeks, possessing the no- 
tions of the future life with which we meet in Homer 
and Pindar, and in the mockeries of Lucian, could erect 
such frequent monuments at all periods as memorials of 
the worship of the dead. We find it difficult simply be- 
cause the frame of mind implied is one of which we 
have no experience. But the view hardest to receive is 

that which is true. 

Let us next turn to another class of reliefs, those in 
which the deceased is represented, not as seated in state, 
but as riding on a horse, or leading one by the bridle. 
These designs are not found at Sparta, though they have 

352 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. xi. 

been sometimes discovered at Argos and elsewhere in 
Peloponnesus. But they belong more especially to 
Northern Greece, particularly to Boeotia. I think that 
the veneration for ancestors implied in them is less in- 
tense than that implied in the Spartan reliefs, and for 
several reasons. At Sparta the hero is seated on a 
throne, in an attitude which belongs only or properly to 
the greater deities, especially Zeus and Hades. In Boe- 
otia he is no longer seated but riding. The Greeks did 
not represent their greater deities, excepting Poseidon, as 
riding on horseback, though they not unfrequently place 
them in chariots. This would seem to them a position 
of insufficient dignity. But there was a lower and less 
exalted race of beings than the gods, whom the Greeks 
did in a marked degree associate with horses. These 
are the demi-gods or heroes, mostly the sons of the gods 
by a mortal mother, like Heracles and Asclepius and 
Castor and Pollux. There was a decided distinction in 
Greece between the honours of these subordinate beings 
and those paid to the gods. And it is notable that the 
heroes were usually represented as riders. Everyone 
knows that this was the case with the twins Castor and 
Pollux, termed the Dioscuri, or the sons of Zeus par 
excellence. And those acquainted with Greek vases and 
other remains know that the same character belonged 
more or less to all those unnumbered heroes who en- 
joyed temples in later Greece as founders of cities, or 
great warriors or inventors of useful arts, or as noted 
benefactors of the human race. The inscription en- 
graved on a notable relief of this class is this :* " Dedi- 
cated to Aleximachus by Calliteles." And it is supposed 
that Aleximachus is not the real name of the dead person 
thus commemorated, but a sort of state name or heroic 
name bestowed on him after death by those who wished 
* In the Sabouroff Collection. 

Chap. XI.] Spartan Tombs and the Cultus of the Dead. 353 

to raise him to the rank of a local hero. Such heroising 
of any man who was in his life at all distinguished was 
usual in all parts of Greece, and at all periods of Greek 

A point which requires some notice in both the Spar- 
tan and Boeotian reliefs is the very frequent presence on 
them of a lady accompanying the divine or semi-divine 
ancestor. Naturally we suppose her to be his wife. 
And this interpretation very well suits the Spartan 
tombs, where she sits by the hero's side in equal state. 
At Sparta women were held in higher honour than in 
the rest of Greece. Elsewhere they were looked on 
often either as household drudges or as mere playthings, 
but in Sparta they were regarded as real helpers to the 
men, and capable of that patriotism which the Spartans 
regarded as the highest virtue. And as a consequence 
of this esteem we find women in more than one of the 
crises of Spartan history, when the city was in danger 
from invasion or sedition, come nobly to the front and 
save the State which had treated them honourably. At 
Sparta, then, there is no reason why they should not 
occupy a divine place beside their husbands after death, 
as they had occupied a place beside him when alive. 
But in the rest of Greece such honour paid to a de- 
ceased woman might well seem excessive. And in the 
horseman-reliefs of Northern Greece she does not seem 
to share the worship of the hero, but rather to be doing 
honour to him, to meet him with an offering, and to 
pour wine into the cup which he holds out to be filled. 

.It is even quite possible that, as a matter of artistic 
tradition and development, the ordinary reliefs of Attic 
tombs may originate in the same circle of ideas. Some 
of the earliest of the Athenian reliefs seem to indicate 
this. In the so-called Leucothea-relief, for instance, a 
work of the time of the Persian Wars, which represents 

2 A 

354 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XI. 

a dead mother seated and embracing for the last time 
her infant, while other children stand before her, we have 
in the general composition, the seated lady and the small 
figures standing before her, an echo of the Spartan reliefs 
with seated hero and ancestress, and small votaries 
approaching. The line is carried on by the reliefs of a 
century later, in which seated ladies receive caskets from 
their attendant maids ; in which case we may suppose 
that the likeness to the scene common on vases, where 
the dead person seated on the steps of the tomb receives 
gifts from the living, is not fortuitous. It is however 
usually a mistake to consider the productions of 
developed sculpture too closely in the light of their 
origin. And in this case the fact already pointed out, 
that the dead person frequently is not seated but standing, 
shows that the class of monuments treated in the last 
chapter had broken away from the ideas of ancestor 
worship, and gained a new centre in the scenes of 
daily life. 

There yet remain various funeral customs of the Greeks 
which still await explanation, although we feel that the 
explanation is brought nearer year by year by new dis- 
coveries. For example, the beautiful figures of terra-cotta 
which of late years have reached us in such quantities 
from Asia and Greece, especially Tanagra, are connected 
with Greek burials in a very remarkable way. They 
are frequently found in connection with tombs. But they 
are not placed in the graves in an orderly or regular 
fashion. At Tanagra and Myrina and other sites they 
are seldom found entire, but almost always broken in a 
purposeful manner, the head usually torn off and lying 
apart. And they are as often to be met with in the 
earth over and beside a grave as 'in the grave itself. 
Messrs. Pottier and Reinach* express their conviction, 
* La Nicropole de Myrina : Bull. Corr. Hell. vol. vii. 

Chap. XI.] Spartan Tombs and the Cultus of the Dead. 355 

based upon a long induction, that the friends of the 

deceased must have stood beside the grave as it was 

being filled with earth with these pretty images in their 

hands, and thrown them — first breaking them — into the 

hole. How can so strange a custom be explained ? 

M. Rayet has proposed a remarkable theory on the 

subject. In early times, he remarks, men slew at the 

graves of departed chiefs their female kin or captive 

women to accompany them to the next world. It seems, 

then, likely that these terra-cotta women of the graves 

are the later representatives of these real women, just as 

terra-cotta loaves of bread and fruits take the place of 

real food ; and that they were thrown into the tomb to 

people the solitude of the grave, and to furnish the dead 

man with pleasing companionship in the world of shades. 

This theory would account for two things ; first, for the 

fact that there are scarcely any representations of bearded 

men among terra-cotta images — they are nearly all of 

women and of boys ; and secondly, for the custom of 

breaking the images, the breaking taking the place of 

the earlier slaying. 

Interesting as the newly-discovered Peloponnesian 
reliefs are to students of Greek art and ancient life, they 
are at least equally important to anthropologists who 
look beyond Greece to the very origin of civilisation. 
For they can undoubtedly be used in favour of the view 
of those who, like Mr. Herbert Spencer, suppose the 
worship of the gods to have arisen later than that of 
deceased human beings, and to be an outgrowth from 
it. If we find sculpture employed as early as the sixth 
century B.C. in places so far apart as Lycia and Pelopon- 
nesus in making figures of the dead for the worship of 
the living, and if we find at a later time a regular cultus 
of the dead prevailing and flourishing in all parts of 
Greece, it would seem that the set of ideas embodied 

2 A 2 

356 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. xi. 

in these manifestations must have struck deep roots in 
the Greek mind. They seem to belong to a deeper and 
more primitive stratum than does the worship of the 
deities of Olympus. And this view is fully confirmed 
by the fact that whereas with the different branches of 
the Aryan race religious rites differ widely, and the names 
of the deities are diverse, yet the cultus of ancestors is 
common to several branches, and takes among them much 
the same form. 

The whole, or nearly the whole, of the new evidence 
is the result of persevering researches of young members 
of the German School of Archaeology at Athens. This 
is one of the many investigations by which they and 
their French colleagues have benefited the cause of know- 
ledge. And not only has knowledge been benefited, but 
not less the discoverers themselves. Such researches as 
these, conducted in the seats of ancient life, are really 
the only training by which archaeologists can be formed, 
or archaeology placed in its rightful position in the very 
front of historical studies. Museums of sculpture and of 
casts may help us ; but it is to the British School at 
Athens that we look to recover for England a position 
like that which she once held, as the nation most deeply 
interested in the study of classical lands and the beautiful 
remains of classical architecture and art. 

( 357 ) 



The feeling of the noblest of the Greeks in regard to 
medicine is well set forth in the third book of Plato's 
Republic* " Do you not hold it disgraceful to require 
medical aid, unless it be for a wound, or an attack of 
illness incidental to the time of year, — to require it, I 
mean, owing to our laziness, and the life we lead, and 
to get ourselves so stuffed with humours and wind, like 
quagmires, as to compel the clever sons of Asclepius 
to call diseases by such names as flatulence and catarrh." 
"Asclepius was aware that in all well-regulated com- 
munities each man has a work assigned to him in the 
State, which he must needs do, and that no one has 
leisure to spend his life as an invalid in the doctor's 
hands." Primitive doctrine truly ! and sounding strangely 
out of date in an age when many of our great physicians 
spend all their lives in patching up the constitutions of 
those who are openly at war with the ordinances of 
mother nature, or in protracting for a few years the 
sufferings of those whom they cannot hope to cure. 

Plato recognises as a true art the gymnastic, which 
trains healthy bodies to be active and vigorous and 
useful, and stigmatises as a false art the medicine which 
would relieve and perpetuate a life radically unhealthy. 
But even in Plato's time this must have been doctrine 
* Pp. 405, 406. Translation of Davies and Vaughan. 

3S8 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. Xll. 

much too lofty and too hard for the many. And as the 
moral tension of the Greek race grew laxer, so that they 
■cared more and more for life and less and less for the 
causes of living, it must have passed more and more out 
of the reach of all but a very few. 

One of the clearest indications of the change is to be 
found in the growth of the cultus of Asclepius. In the 
time of Homer, Asclepius is merely the blameless phy- 
sician whose sons Podaleirius and Machaon led to Ilium 
the men of Tricca. The healing art was used for the 
treatment of outward wounds, not of inward infirmities ; 
and in this restricted sense Paeeon is the physician of 
Olympus. At a later time the functions of Paeeon as 
god of health were absorbed by Apollo as deity of 
harmony and of perfect physical development, and there- 
fore able to produce that vigorous health to which 
disease is as foreign as blight to a hardy and growing 
plant. We do not hear Asclepius spoken of as one of 
the greater of the gods until the time of Alexander the 
Great. But in the unsettled times which came later, 
when individualism triumphed and the State counted 
■ for little, when society was corrupt and moribund, and 
men's aim was to get out of life all the pleasure which 
it was capable of affording, physical health became a 
rarer blessing and its value grew greater and greater. 
Then Asclepius took his place in many districts at the 
very head of the Pantheon ; in inscriptions he was 
termed /A67a?, crcoTj^p, K^pio'i and even Zei>9 ; and his temples 
were perpetually thronged by an endless train of votaries 
begging the priceless boon of health for themselves or 
those whom they loved. 

Of late years extensive excavations have taken place 
at three of the principal seats of Asclepian worship in 
ancient Greece — Athens, Epidaurus and Pergamon. The 
Pergamene excavations do not appear to have shed 

Chap. XII.] Epidaurtis and Ancient Medicine. 359 

much light on the cult ; but those at Epidaurus, and 
the investigation of the precinct of Asclepius on the 
slope of the Acropolis of Athens, have produced an 
abundance of materials whereby we may discern the 
character of the worship of Asclepius, its relations to 
ancient medicine, and its bearings upon Greek life in 

In early Greek days no doubt the clan of the Ascle- 
piadae possessed something like a monopoly in the 
treatment of disease ; such a monopoly as the Home- 
ridae of Chios possessed in the recitation of some of 
the epic poems, or the lamidae in certain kinds of 
divination. But that this monopoly was not inviolate 
before the Persian Wars is proved by the history of 
Democedes of Croton, one of the most renowned of the 
public or State physicians of Greece, who was by birth 
not an Asclepiad. Herodotus tells us his story : born 
at Croton he fled from an ill-tempered father to Aegina, 
and there in the first year of his stay, though lacking 
materials and instruments, gained a greater reputation 
than all the local physicians. In the second year the 
Aeginetans retained him as public physician at the high 
salary of a talent a year.f The Athenians however 
tempted him away by an offer of higher pay, and Poly- 
crates of Samos secured his services for two talents a 

* As to the excavations at Athens, see U. Koehler's papers in the 
Mittheilungen of the German School at Athens, and P. Girard's 
summary EAscUpieion d'Athenes. The most important of the 
Epidaurian inscriptions is pubhshed by Kavvadias in the 'E(j>rjij.ep\s 
apxaioXoyiKTj for 1 883. 

t i.e. 6000 drachms. To most readers this statement will not 
convey its full meaning. The Aeginetan drachm being of about the 
weight of a shilling, the value in modern metal of a talent would be 
some ^300 ; but considering the far greater value of money in 
antiquity, it is perhaps nearer the mark to reckon the drachm as 
ten shillings than as one. The Athenian dicasts received for a day's 
pay from the sixth to the half of a drachm. 

360 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XII. 

year. Captured by the Persians he was sent to Darius, 
and at the Persian court continued his successes, curing 
a tumour in the breast of Atossa, and setting right the 
foot of Darius when sprained. Finally he became one of 
the chief causes which induced Darius to plan the in- 
vasion of Greece. We are told that his system was 
one of healing and soothing processes. 

This instance is sufficient to show that physicians had 
a career before them in Greece as early as B.C. 500, and 
that they were retained by tyrants and republics as 
public doctors. No doubt they were bound in return 
for their pay to put themselves at the service of all 
citizens. There is extant an inscription from Carpathos,* 
wherein a certain doctor named Menecrates is praised 
for not deserting the city at a time of plague, but stay- 
ing at his post, and even, though a poor man, expending 
a talent of his own money in relief of the sick. In an 
Athenian inscription! a Rhodian physician named Phei- 
dias is awarded a wreath for volunteering his services 
gratis as public doctor. At Athens in the later period 
the public physicians united twice a year in solemn 
sacrifices to Asclepius and Hygieia on behalf of them- 
selves and their patients.J As to the skill and attain- 
ments of these practitioners we have means of judging 
in the writings of Hippocrates, Galen and Celsus, which 
have come down to us. It is not a matter in which a 
layman can form a confident opinion. After forming 
at the time of the Renascence the staple of medical edu- 
cation, these writings have in recent years fallen into 
comparative neglect ; a neglect perhaps beyond their 

* Revue ArcheoL, 1863, vol. viii. On Greek public doctors Dr. 
Vercoutre has written a series of papers in the same review, vol. xxxix. 

t C /. ^. ii. I, Addenda Nova, 256 b. 

X Ibid., Add. Nova, 352 b. 

Chap. XII.] Epidaurus and Ancient Medicine. 361 

deserts, for if we greatly surpass the Greeks in our ex- 
perience of unhealthy conditions of life, their knowledge 
of health was surely wide and sound. 

Perhaps the relation of Democedes to the Asclepiadae 
may have resembled that borne in our days by a suc- 
cessful homoeopathic physician to regular practitioners. 
At any rate it is certain that for long after his time 
the Asclepiad clan kept medicine in a great degree in 
their own hands, and admitted but rarely strangers to 
share their privileges. It was from the branch of the 
gens connected with the temple of Cos that Hippo- 
crates sprang, who in the days of the Peloponnesian 
War laid for all time the foundations of systematic 
medicine. It is to Hippocrates that the ancients as- 
cribed the formulation of the oath taken in some cities 
by those who entered the profession of medicine, and 
though this attribution cannot be upheld, yet the oath 
is certainly early as well as interesting. I translate it 
in full: "I swear by Apollo the physician, Asclepius, 
Hygieia and Panaceia, and all gods and goddesses, 
calling them all to witness, that I will fulfil according 
to my power and judgment this oath and promise. I 
will reverence my teacher in this art as my own parents, 
give him of my living and fulfil his necessities : I will 
regard his issue as my own brothers, and will teach 
them this art, if they wish to learn it, without pay or 
obligation : I will admit to teaching, to lecture and all 
other instruction, my own sons and those of my teacher, 
and pupils who are articled and have taken the oath 
pertaining to physicians, and none beside. I will use a 
regimen suited to the good of the sick according to my 
power and judgment, and preserve them from harm and 
injury : I will give no man poison at his request, nor 
will give such advice : likewise will I administer no 
harmful drug to women. I will preserve my life and 

362 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XII. 

practice pure and sound. I will not cut for stone, but 
leave that to those who practise the matter. When I 
enter a house I will go for the good of the sick, keeping 
myself from all wilful harm and injury and all lust to- 
wards man and woman, free and slave. All that I hear 
and see in my practice or out of my practice in ordinary 
life, if it should not be told outside, I will keep in silence, 
regarding this experience as secret. If I keep this oath 
sacred may I be successful in life and practice and in 
repute with all men for all time : but if I violate it and 
commit perjury may it be otherwise with me." 

Meantime, beside the growing schools of scientific 
medicine, there sprang up, or survived, other sorts of 
treatment. Medicine as practised in the best schools of 
Greece is not our subject at present. We have only to 
speak of a kind of medicine which ancient as well as 
modern physicians would commonly regard as a kind of 

In all ages there have been many natures which have 
revolted against the hard materialism which is the domi- 
nant creed in the high medical schools. In all ages 
many have preferred to look for relief even from physical 
ailments to some kind of miracle ; have looked with 
more favour on faith than on mere prescriptions and 
drugs. And indeed, if there be any value in human 
testimony, faith has often been successful where drugs 
have failed. Among the Greeks persons, whose temper 
was such that they expected health from mere mental 
and spiritual influences, would naturally apply to the 
temples of Asclepius and enrol themselves among the 
votaries of the healing god. In so doing, they certainly 
fell in the way of a good deal of charlatanry, but they 
may nevertheless in some cases have attained their object. 
The effects of belief, even if that belief be based on 
insecure grounds, may often be solid enough. 

Chap. XII.] Epidatirus and Ancient Medicine. 363 

The position of the temple of Asclepius at Athens was 
in winter pleasant and salubrious. It was placed on the 
southern side of the Acropolis rock, and by that rock 
was sheltered from the cold winds of the north, while 
exposed to the sun and to the breezes blowing fresh 
from the Aegean. It was above the level of the city, 
and looked over it to Aegina, "the eye-sore of the Pi- 
raeus," and Salamis and Acrocorinthus. The traces of 
walls which still remain within the precinct of the deity 
may be variously interpreted ; but it is clear from an 
inscription * discovered in situ that there were two 
temples of the god, an older and a newer ; and besides 
we can trace the ground plan of ranges of buildings of 
some extent, which must have served for the abode or 
at least the temporary accommodation of the crowds of 
votaries who came to the spot in search of health. In 
one chamber is a well, used no doubt for the ablutions 
which the god frequently prescribed, and which, together 
with gentle walks in the airy and warm galleries, go far 
to explain some of the cures which took place. 

The temples were not more than small chapels, and 
filled with inscriptions and with reliefs set up by those 
who had been cured, and articles of value given by them 
as a fee to the healing god. Some of the reliefs and 
some of the inscription^ remain to our days. The reliefs 
are mostly of one class : they represent Asclepius and 
Hygieia, or sometimes Asclepius with other members of 
his family, standing or seated in dignity, and approached 
by a train of votaries, who bring with them sometimes 
an animal for sacrifice. Some of these reliefs belong to 
a good time of art, and are in composition and execution 

* The inscription (C. /. A. ii. I, Addenda 489 b ; Girard, p, 6) 
records how one Diodes repaired the propylaea of the precinct, and 
restored the <7/rf temple, being allowed as a return to place on each an 
inscription recording his liberality. 

364 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XII. 

most pleasing. But though these larger anathemata 
alone survive, the inscriptions tell us of many others 
which have long since been stolen or destroyed. It was 
a common custom to dedicate to Asclepius a model in 
precious metal, in stone or in wax, of that part of the 
body which had been healed by his intervention. Some 
people have fancied that an accumulation of votive offer- 
ings of this kind might in time constitute a sort of mu- 
seum of pathology and be very instructive to students.* 
But those who entertain such a fancy can understand 
but little of the aesthetic and artistic side of the Greek 
nature. Such models would not represent the diseased 
member in its abnormal condition, but in that healthy 
condition to which it was restored by the god. It was 
health and beauty, not disease and deformity, which Greek 
artists depicted. This is no mere theoretical assertion ; 
we possess in our museums a large number of stone 
models of eyes, breasts, arms and feet, and other parts of 
the human body, dedicated in memory of cures in ancient 
times. And many of these belong to a later time, when 
the purity of Greek' artistic taste was overlaid by the 
barbarism of Asia and the realism of Rome. Yet they 
represent health merely ; or if there be an allusion 
to disease it is no such brutal transcript as many a 
modern artist would delight in producing, but a mere 

We read also, in the inscriptions, of votive cocks made 
in the cheapest of all materials, terra-cotta, and dedicated 
either by those who were very poor, or by such mean 
worshippers as the fiiKpo^iX6ri/j,o<; of Theophrastus, who 
dedicates in the temple of Asclepius a bronze ring, and 
goes every day to clean it and rub it with oil. But 
many of the thankofferings presented to the temple were 

* A passage of Strabo (xiv., p. 657) has been regarded as supporting 
this view ; but it should be otherwise interpreted. 

Chap. XII.] Epidaurus and Ancient Medicine. 365 

of quite another class, cups of silver and gold, jewels of 
value, censers and tripods. 

The inscriptions found at Athens enlighten us as to 
the number and character of these dedications ; they go 
into the utmost detail, and even describe the place where 
each was deposited, by such phrases as "in the second 
row," "behind the door," and the like. They also pre- 
serve to us decrees passed by the people in regard to 
the temple, and record the names of priests. But they 
do not give us, what is of far more interest in the present 
day, a record of the cures wrought in the temple. For 
that we must turn to the inscriptions discovered in the 
great Asclepian shrine at Epidaurus, the native city of 
the god. But, before doing so, we must linger for a few 
minutes over a delightful sketch of Aristophanes which 
brings up vividly before us the scenes daily enacted in 
the temple at Athens. The compilers of inscriptions 
often give us by their very simplicity a clear and exact 
view of circumstance, but they can scarcely transplant us, 
as does the genius of Aristophanes, into the very midst 
of ancient thought and feeling. Carion is relating to an 
old woman how the blind god Plutus fared when he 
went to the temple of Asclepius to seek a cure for his 
blindness* : — 

" Carion : Directly we reached the abode of the god, 
taking with us this man (Plutus) — then in very evil case, 
but now happy and blessed beyond all men — first of all 
we led him to the sacred spring and washed him. 

" Woman : Happy indeed he must have been — at his 
age being washed in a cold spring. 

" Carion : Then we proceeded to the precinct of the 
god ; and after offering on the altar the first sacrifices 
and pouring sweets on the flame of Hephaestus, we laid 

* Plutus, 653, sqq. The following^ paraphrase gives only the 
substance of the dialogue. 

366 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XII. 

Plutus on a couch in the approved fashion ; then each of 
us arranged for himself a shake-down of straw. 

" Woman : Were others there seeking aid of the god ? 
" Carion : Yes, one Neocleides, a blind man who at 
stealing beats men who can see ; and many others suffer- 
ing from every sort of disease. Then the servant of the 
god put out the lamps and bade us sleep, forbidding us 
if we heard a noise, to speak ; so we all lay quiet. But 
I could not sleep, for my mind was disturbed by a pot 
of porridge, lying just over the head of an old woman, 
which I violently longed to creep up to. And, looking 
up, I saw the priest carrying off the cakes and figs from 
the sacred table ; after which he went round to all the 
altars in turn to see if any cake were left, and conse- 
crated them all, — into a bag. So I, concluding that this 
proceeding was in accord with religion, arose to hunt 
the porridge pot. 

"Woman : Impudent man ; feared you not the god ? 

" Carion : Aye, that indeed I did, lest he , should get 
to the porridge before me, he and his chaplets ; for it 
was his priest that showed me the way. But the woman, 
when she heard the noise I made, put out her hand, and 
I with a hiss seized it in my mouth like a sacred serpent ; 
she drew it back in haste and lay huddled up in her 
clothes, smelling like a weasel in her fear. Then I gulped 
down most of the porridge, and when I had had my fill 
thought of sleep. 

" Woman : Came not the god to you .^ " 

Carion then describes how the god made his appearance 
followed by his daughters laso and Panaceia. 

" I straightway covered myself up in terror, but he 
proceeded all round inspecting all the diseases in a most 
orderly fashion ; then a slave set down by him a stone 
mortar and pestle and a medicine-chest. 

" Woman : Of stone ? 

Chap. XII.] Epidaurus and Ancient Medicine. 367 

" Carion : No, not the chest. 

" Woman : How could you see, you scoundrel, if, as 
you say, you were covered up ? 

" Carion : Why, through my cloak, for its holes were 
not a few, to be sure. First of all he set about grinding 
an ointment for Neocleides ; he put in the mortar three 
heads of Tenian garlic, then he crushed them, mixing in 
fig-tree juice and squills, and moistening with Sphettian 
vinegar, anointed the inside of his eyelids, turning them 
back to increase the smart. Neocleides, shrieking and 
crying, rose to rush off; but the god said, with a laugh, 
' Sit in plaster, so will I give you an excuse for not going 
to the assembly.' 

"Woman : How clever the god is, and how patriotic. 
" Carion : After that he sat down by Plutus, and first 
he handled his head, then with a clean towel wiped his 
eyelids, and Panaceia wrapped all his head and face in a 
purple cloth. Then the god whistled, and two snakes of 
huge size issued from the temple. 
" Woman : Good heavens ! 

" Carion : Gently they entered under the cloth, and, as 
I thought, began to lick his eyelids round, and before you 
could drink ten ladles-full of wine, Plutus, madam, stood 
up a seeing man ! I clapped my hands for delight, and 
called my master ; and at once the god vanished, he and 
his serpents, into the temple. And, as you may fancy, 
they who lay near Plutus began to congratulate him, and 
they lay awake all night till day appeared." 

Few problems are harder to those who want to realise 
Greek life than those offered by the plays of Aristo- 
phanes. We find it almost impossible to understand how 
the Athenians could one day delight in ridiculing the 
gods and their worship, and the next approach them as 
votaries. In the Plutus the passage describing the actual 
cure of Plutus sounds like the pious recital of a grateful 

368 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. Xll. 

votary who had experienced the help of the god ; but 
the background of the passage is one of jesting and 
indecency. It does not seem that Aristophanes intended 
to throw any doubt on the reality of the cures in the 
temple ; he probably accepted the cultus of Asclepius as 
he did the other cults of Athens ; his wit has no icono- 
clastic force, but only covers the images of the gods with 
Dionysiac ivy, making them like that ancient statue of 
Hermes described by Pausanias, which was invisible 
because of the myrtle boughs heaped about it. 

In turning from Athens to Epidaurus, one is some- 
what overwhelmed by the number of interesting vistas 
opened by that important site. It is a pity that no 
complete or consecutive account of the excavations 
carried on there by M. Kavvadias for the Greek Archaeo- 
logical Society in the eighties has yet been published. 
Their details have to be extracted from the Praktika 
of the society, or from the pages of the Athenian 
Ephemeris. There has been found something for all 
Hellenic scholars. The theatre of Epidaurus is one of 
the most complete remaining to us, affording abundant 
material to the controversy now centering about the new 
views of Dorpfeld as to the arrangements of the Attic 
stage. To architects not only this theatre is interesting, 
but also the curious round building called the Tholos of 
Polycleitus. Of this the foundations, consisting of con- 
centric circles of masonry, have come to light, besides 
many architectural fragments : but the purpose of the 
building still remains obscure ; M. Kavvadias thinks that 
it was not a spring-house or reservoir. In the way of 
sculpture the recovered fragments of the pediments and 
acroteria of the temples of Asclepius and of Artemis 
offer much of importance. These sculptures, like the 
great statue of Asclepius in gold and ivory by Thrasy- 
medes of Paros, which has of course disappeared, were 

Chap, xn.] Epidaur us and Ancient Medicine. 369 

works of the early fourth century and show Athenian 
influence. We learn from an inscription discovered on 
the spot that models (tuttoi) for the sculpture which 
adorned the temple of Asclepius were furnished by 
Timotheus, doubtless the same sculptor who worked 
with Scopas on the Mausoleum, and that he was paid 
900 drachmas for them. The interesting figures of 
Amazons, Nereids, and other ideal beings made after 
the models of Timotheus are now ranged in a room in 
the central Museum at Athens ; but since no casts from 
them have been taken they are not so widely known as 
they should be. 

But perhaps the most important spoil of all consists 
in the inscriptions, which are early, numerous and of 
great length. Here as in Delos and on other sites 
we have recovered a considerable part of the archives of 
the temple, among other things the details of the cost 
of its construction, and several documents in regard to 
the worship of the great deity of Epldaurus. The last 
twenty years have brought us an astonishing amount of 
this kind of document, showing us whence the revenues 
of temples were derived, how they were administered, and 
in what way they were expended, how the offerings 
dedicated in them were placed, how repairs were from 
time to time executed, and the like. There is material 
of this kind to fill with the mere text several volumes, 
and even German industry has as yet by no means 
absorbed all the new data thus procured. As to us 
English, we shall probably wait until the results of 
discovery slowly filter down to us through new editions 
of German text-books. 

Among the most striking results of the excavations 
has been the recovery of two inscriptions * of con- 
siderable length, giving details of many of the cures 
* Ephem. Arch. 1883, p. 197, and 1885, p. i. 

2 B 

370 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XII. 

wrought in the temple. To a modern physician these 
accounts would scarcely be of interest ; but to those 
interested in Greek religion and antiquities this wreckage 
from the life of ancient Hellas has an importance of 
its own. 

They are headed Cures by Apollo and Asclepius. 
Some of these cures we will detail, not quite in the order 
in which they are entered on the stones. We will begin 
with the least injured record. 

Line 72. " Case of a man, who came to the god as a 
patient ; he had but one eye ; of the other only the 
empty eyelids remained. And some of those in the 
precinct said it was sheer folly for him to suppose that 
he could see, when he had no vestige of an eye, but only 
an empty socket. While he slept he saw a vision ; it 
seemed to him that the god mixed a salve, and opening 
his eyelids poured it in. And when day broke he de- 
parted seeing with both eyes." 

Line 120. " Case of Alcetas of Halica. He was blind, 
and saw a vision : he thought the god approached him, 
and with his fingers opened his eyes, so that he could see 
the trees in the precinct. And when day broke he de- 
parted cured." 

Line 125. ''Case of Thy son of Hermione, a blind boy. 
He being licked while awake by one of the temple-dogs 
on the eyes departed cured." 

These temple-dogs were no less an institution at 
Epidaurus than the snakes of which Aristophanes speaks, 
and their tongue had as great healing power as the drugs 
of the god himself. We pass on from blindness to other 
diseases : 

Line 68. " Case of Euphanes, a boy of Epidaurus. He 
went to sleep suffering from stone. And it seemed to 
him that the god stood by him and asked, 'What will 
you give me if I make you well ? ' And he answered 

Chap. XII.] Epidaurus mid Ancient Medicine. 371 

he would give ten knuckle-bones ; at which the god 
laughed, and said he would ease him. And when day 
broke he departed cured." 

Line 41. " Case of a dumb boy. He came to the 
precinct to ask a cure of his dumbness : when he had 
made the preliminary sacrifice and performed the rites, 
the slave of the god who carried the torch turning to the 
father of the boy said, ' Do you promise that if within a 
year he gains the end for which he came he will make 
the sacrifice of thanksgiving ? ' And the boy suddenly 
answered, ' I promise ' : the father in astonishment bade 
him say it again ; and he said it again and thenceforward 
was cured." 

In this case and in the next the cure seems to have 
been wrought without any special intervention of the 
god, by a mere force of healing which pervaded the 
whole place. 

Line iii. ^^ Case of Nicanor, a lame man. While he 
was sitting awake a boy snatched away his crutch and 
began to run off: he jumped up to pursue and was 
thenceforth cured." 

Line 95. " Case of Euippus. He carried a spear-head 
six years in his jaw ; when he was laid to sleep, the god 
extracted the spear-head and gave it into his hands. And 
when day broke he came forth cured carrying the spear- 
head in his hand." 

Line 107. " Case of Hermodicus of Lamps aciis. He was 
paralysed : sleeping he was cured by the god who bade 
him go out and bring into the precinct the biggest stone 
he could carry ; so he brought in the stone which still 
lies before the hall." 

The stone which still lies there : this must have been an 
answer quite irrefutable to the sceptics who doubted of 
the story : proof positive was before their eyes. 

Line 113. " Case of a man, whose toe was cured by a 

2 B 2 

372 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XII. 

sacred snake. His toe was in pain from the bite of a wild 
beast : he was carried outside by day by the temple 
servants, and was sitting on a seat, when he fell asleep : 
and while he was asleep, a snake issued from the hall* 
and cured his toe with its tongue, after which it returned 
to the hall. He awaking cured said he had seen in a 
vision a beauteous youth pouring medicine on his toe." 

But not all the cures wrought by the god were of 
wounds and grievous sicknesses ; he condescended in 
some cases to cure indispositions which we are accus- 
tomed to bear with philosophy ; and others in which 
imagination seems to have had no small share. 

Line 122. " Case of Heraeeus of Mytilene. He had no 
hair on his head, but a good crop on his chin : being 
ashamed of being a laughing-stock to his companions he 
came to sleep in the hall : and the god anointed his head 
with salve, and made the hair come." 

Line 98. " Case of the Toronaean who was cured of 
leeches. He slept in the hall and saw a vision ; he 
thought the god cut open his chest with a knife, and 
taking out the leeches gave them into his hands, and 
sewed up his chest again. When day broke he departed 
carrying the creatures in his hands, and was cured. He 
had swallowed them in consequence of a step-mother's 
trick, who had put them into a potion which he 

Line 3. " Case of Cleo, who went with child five years. 
She in the fifth year of pregnancy came to seek the aid 
of the god and went to sleep in the hall : and no sooner 
did she come forth from it and pass outside the precinctf 
than she gave birth to a son, who directly after birth 

* ofiaTov, here rendered hall, was not the temple of the god, but the 
chamber where suppliants slept : Upov is the sacred precinct, contain- 
ing this hall, the temple, vaos, and the dedicated tablets. 

t Of course a delivery within the precinct would have polluted it. 

Chap. XII.] Epidaurtis and Ancient Medicine. 373 

washed himself at the spring, and began to walk about 
with his mother. And after meeting these fortunes she 
wrote up on a votive tablet, ' Not the size of the picture 
but the miracle is the marvel, that Cleo bore the 
burden in her womb for five years, till she slept here 
and the god made her whole.'" 

Certainly these cures were of a remarkable kind, and 
the moral of them was, from the point of view of the 
priesthood, quite unexceptionable. But the cures which 
follow have a moral bearing which lies still more con- 
spicuously on the face of them, showing the great danger 
of doubting the power of the god, or of defrauding him 
of his revenues. 

Line 22. " Case of a man whose fingers were paralysed 
all but one. He came to the god to seek aid ; but looking 
round at the votive tablets of the precinct he was doubtful 
about the cures and began to ridicule the inscriptions. 
He slept in the hall and saw a vision ; he thought that 
as he was playing with astragali close to the temple, and 
was going to make a cast, the god appeared and seemed 
to seize his hand and stretch out the fingers of it. And 
when he went away, he thought he clenched his hand 
and then extended the fingers one by one, and when he 
had extended them all, the god asked him if he was still 
sceptical as to the inscriptions on the votive-tablets in the 
temple ; and he replied that he was not." 

Line 33. " Case of Ambrosia from Athens who had but 
one eye. She came to seek aid of the god ; and walking 
round the precinct, began to ridicule some of the cures, 
saying it was absurd and impossible that the lame and 
the blind should become whole merely through seeing a 
vision. And sleeping she saw a vision ; she thought the 
god stood by her and said that he would make her whole, 
but she must for payment dedicate in the precinct a pig 
of silver, as a memorial of her folly. And with these 

374 iV^zw Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XII. 

words the god cut open her diseased eye and poured 
a drug in. And when day broke she went away 

Line 48. " Case of Pandanis of Thessaly, who had 
marks (stigmata) on his forehead. He slept and had a 
vision ; he thought the god tied a bandage over his 
stigmata, and bade him when he had passed out of the 
hall to take off the bandage and dedicate it in the temple. 
And when day broke he arose and took off the bandage, 
and found his forehead healed of the stigmata, and dedi- 
cated the bandage in the temple." 

Line 54. " Case of Echedorus, who received on his fore- 
head the stigmata of Pandarus, in addition to those he 
had before. He had received of Pandarus money to 
dedicate to the god at Epidaurus on behalf of Pandarus 
himself. Sleeping, he saw a vision. He thought the god 
stood by^him and asked him whether he had any money 
from Pandarus to dedicate as an offering in the precinct ; 
he answered that he had not received anything of the 
kind from Pandarus, but that if the god would make him 
whole he would have a picture painted and dedicate it ; 
and after that the god bound round the stigmata on his 
head the bandage of Pandarus, and bade him when he 
departed from the temple take off the bandage and wash 
his face in the spring and look into the water. When 
day broke he came out of the temple and removed the 
bandage. It had no marks ; and when he looked into 
the water he saw that his face, in addition to its previous 
stigmata, had acquired those of Pandarus." 

Truly an unimpeachable moral ! and scarcely less 
sound is the moral of the following cures : — 

Line 90. " Case of Aeschines. When the suppliants 
were laid down to sleep, he mounted into a tree and 
pried into the hall ; and he fell from the tree and struck 
his eyes on some palings. Being in an evil case and 

Chap. XII.] Epidauriis and Ancient Medicine. 375 

having become blind, he turned as a suppHant to the god ; 
and he slept and became whole." 

Line 79. " Case of the earthen vessel. A porter on the 
way to the precinct, about ten furlongs off, fell down ; he 
rose and opened his bag and examined the shattered 
vessels. When he found that the cup out of which his 
master was used to drink was broken, he was much 
grieved, and sitting down tried to fit the pieces together. 
Now a wayfarer saw him and said, 'Why, unfortunate, 
do you try in vain to put the cup together? not even 
Asclepius who dwells at Epidaurus could make it whole.' 
Hearing this the slave replaced the fragments in the bag, 
and came to the precinct ; and when he arrived, he opened 
the bag and took out the cup which had become whole. 
Then he told his master all that had been done and said ; 
and when he heard he dedicated the cup to the god." 

And in the temple of the god no doubt it remained, 
with the marks of its fracture upon it, to silence for all 
time the sceptics and to prove that Asclepius could mend 
not only the bodies of the sick, but broken earthenware 

We may add two cures from the worse preserved of 
the two stones, because they preserve the peculiarity 
that sometimes the actual presence of the votary was 
dispensed with, and he was represented by a friend. 

Line 19. '■^ Case of Aristocritus of Halica* amid the 
rocks. He dived and swam out to sea and came to a 
dry piece of ground surrounded by rocks, out of which 
he could find no way of escape. Presently his father, 
when he could not find him by searching everywhere, 

* Ephem. Arch. 1885, p. i. The reading and rendering of the first 
few lines of the case of Aristocritus is doubtful. I omit the word 
hfvhpvav, which has no intelligible meaning, in my rendering. I 
suppose that Aristocritus swam out to sea, and returning exhausted 
found himself on a strip of beach whence he could not climb the 

376 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. Xll. 

came to Asclepius and slept in the hall on behalf of 
his son. He saw a vision ; the god seemed to lead him 
to a place, and showed him that his son was there. He 
came out of the precinct, and cutting through the rock 
found his son who had been there six days." 

Line i . " Case of A rata, a Spartan girl sick with dropsy. 
Her mother slept on her account in the precinct, she 
remaining at Lacedaemon. The mother saw a vision ; 
she thought the god cut off her daughter's head and 
hung up her body neck downwards, and when enough 
water had run out, took down the body and restored the 
head to the neck. After seeing this vision she returned 
to Lacedaemon and found that her daughter had re- 
covered after seeing the same vision." 

The mixture in this and other cases of operation and 
vision, fact and fancy, is very suggestive. In this case 
the cutting off of the head is a dream, in other cases it 
is spoken of as a fact. 

Such are these extraordinary documents, which it will 
be well to examine in various points of view, to ascertain 
more exactly their character. As to the period at which 
they were drawn up we can be in no uncertainty. The 
character of the writing, clear and regular, points to 
the fourth or the early part of the third century. Then 
doubtless they were set up, and so remained for cen- 
turies. Pausanias in the Antonine age thus writes* : 
" There stand tablets in the sacred enclosure, of which six 
remain in our time, but formerly there were more, on which 
are recorded the names of men and women who were healed 
by Asclepius, also the disease of each and the manner of 
cure. They are in the Doric dialect." Of late years it has 
become not unusual in Germany to speak with more than 
distrust of the testimony of Pausanias, and even to suggest 
that he made up his Periegesis by the aid of old catalogues 
* Paus. ii. 27, 3. 

Chap. XII.] Epidaurus and Ancient Medicine. 377 

and guide-books. The phrase of Pausanias which I have 
quoted bears an impress of trustworthiness. But there is 
a further fact pointing in the same direction which carries 
more conviction.* In another passagef the Traveller 
mentions a small place in Argolis called Halica in 
the following terms : " Halica is deserted in our days, 
but it was formerly inhabited, and is mentioned in the 
stelae at Epidaurus, in which are recorded the cures of 
the temple of Asclepius : I know no other mention of 
Halica or its inhabitants." As a matter of fact Halica 
is mentioned thrice in the inscriptions before us. It is 
hard to avoid the conclusion that Pausanias saw with his 
own eyes the name of Halica on the tablets and made a 
note of it on the spot, although it is of course within 
the bounds of possibility that in this case too he is 
merely quoting an old guide-book. 

We are by no means justified in supposing that all or 
most of the cures recorded in our tablets were of the same 
period as the tablets themselves. We can in fact point out 
on the second stele of Epidaurus a case in which a cure is 
certainly written down from tradition. We read on it 
the tale of a woman named Aristagora of Methana, who 
was cured in somewhat blundering fashion of a taenia 
or tape-worm of monstrous size. She went to the temple 
of the god at Ti'oezen ; and the god being away at Epi- 
daurus his servants tried to cure the woman by taking 
off her head and rummaging in her intestines for the 
monster. It was captured, but the servants were unable 
to put the head on again until the deity returned from 
Epidaurus. Now we have an exactly similar story,| 
evidently its prototype, in the fragments of Hippys, a 
writer of the age of the Persian wars, that is, at a period 
two centuries before the stele was engraved: It is evident 
then that some of the stories of Epidaurus were mellow 
* See Kavvadias, /. c. \ Paus. ii. 36, i. % Girard, op. c, p. 29. 

3/8 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. xn. 

with age. And it seems that they improved with keeping. 
In the tale as told by Hippys the scene is Epidaurus. 
But the tale reflects small credit on a shrine from which 
the deity was absent and in which the temple-servants 
were blunderers. So in the Epidaurian record the scene 
is shifted to the neighbouring and rival Troezen, and the 
failure of the ministers is said to have been due to the 
circumstance that the god was absent at Epidaurus. The 
hand of the fraudulently pious redactor is in this case only 
too evident. 

In later times of Roman Dominion, though the fame 
of the deity did not decline, yet the simplicity of the 
faith of his votaries seems to have done so. We no 
longer read of Asclepius curing with a touch or by the 
tongue of a sacred dog or snake : he seems mainly to 
confine himself to giving prescriptions either directly to 
his votaries in dreams, or by the mouth of his priests. 
" To one man," writes the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, 
"Asclepius prescribes horse-exercise, to another cold 
baths, to another bareness of feet." We have an extra- 
ordinary variety of these divine prescriptions in the 'lep&v 
Xoyoi, of the valetudinarian Aelius Aristides, who was 
devoted to Asclepius, and whose pilgrimages to the 
shrines of the god have helped considerably to extend 
our knowledge of the geography of Asia Minor. In 
this matter also we gain much information from inscrip- 
tions. An inscription from Epidaurus of the Antonine 
age* doubtless a votive tablet, records thus the visions 
of a votary : " I, Marcus Julius Apellas of Mylasa was 
sent for by the god, often falling sick and having chronic 
dyspepsia; on the voyage, in Aegina, he bade me ab- 
stain from the passion of anger : and when I was in the 

* Ephem. Arch., 1883, p. 230. The name of the eponymous priest 
mentioned in the inscription, P. Aelius Antiochus, indicates its date 

Chap. XII.] Epidaurtis and Ancient Medicine. 379 

temple he bade me cover my head for two days during 
which there were showers, to take bread and cheese at 
the beginning of a meal (or before bathing) and parsley 
with lettuce, to bathe without attendance, to practise 
running .... to take walks upstairs in the open air, to 
go barefoot before entering the warm water in the bath- 
room, to pour wine over myself, to bathe alone, and give an 
Attic drachm to the bathing man, to drink honey with 
milk. And one day when I was drinking milk alone, 
he said to me ' put in honey : ' " and so on : but we will 
no longer follow the maunderings of this tedious patient. 
It seems, however, clear from this testimony and that 
of Marcus Aurelius, that in Roman times the god of 
Epidaurus went on the hardening system, and be- 
lieved greatly in cold baths and naked feet and exercise. 
The opposite system that the road to health lies through 
tending and cosseting oneself, was not much in vogue ; 
Asclepius fancied that exposure and hardness led to 
vigour and longevity. 

I will cite but one more inscription, which comes 
from the shrine of Aesculapius in the Insula Tiberina 
at Rome.* It is of very late times, and one seems in 
reading it to be already approaching the middle-ages 
with their external devotion and ready credulity for the 
miraculous. " Gaius, a blind man, the god ordered to 
come to the sacred /3?5/^a and kneel ; then to go from 
right to left, and place his five fingers on the bema ; 
then to raise his hand and place it on his eyes ; and 
at once he saw, a crowd standing by." " To Julian, who 
spat blood and was given up, the god recommended 
to take the seeds of pine cones from the altar and eat 
them with honey for three days : and he was cured, 
and came and gave the god thanks in the presence of 
the people." "To Valerius Aper, blind, he prescribed 
* C. I. 5980. 

380 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XII. 

that he should take the blood of a white cock with 
honey for an eye-salve, and anoint his eyes with it 
three days : he did so and recovered." 

These cases are unlike those of Epidaurus either of 
the earlier or later age, inasmuch as the element of 
faith-healing is more conspicuous. The god does not 
as in the earlier records effect the cure himself, nor 
does he recommend any course of action in itself health- 
ful, but he merely ordains some ceremonial observance, 
on doing which recovery follows. Asclepius appears in 
these cases like a thaumaturge such as Sabazius and 
Mithras, those strange figures of late Greek superstition. 
And in fact, as we know from many records, in late 
times Asclepius did become, like those barbarous Oriental 
figures, a sort of mystic saver and preserver. Then it 
was not from disease only that he saved men, but from 
battle and murder, from shipwreck and disaster. And 
this character he seems to have retained until his place 
was gradually taken by Christian saints and martyrs, 
whose relics proved no less efficacious than dreams sent 
by the physician-god or than the tongue of the sacred 

( 38i ) 



As no branch of Greek religious usage is more 
worthy of study than the Mysteries of Eleusis, so 
scarcely any presents greater difficulties to the investi- 
gator. The ancients, it is notorious, threatened with 
heavy penalties those who should divulge any secret 
connected with the Mysteries ; therefore the ancient 
writers tell us but little of them, nor do inscriptions 
and works of art do very much towards filling up the 
blank. And the little information which reaches us by 
means of stray hints of writers of classical times, or 
the violent polemical treatises of early Christian fathers 
and Pagan writers of the decline, has been greatly 
distorted by modern authors who cannot in this 
matter lay aside the odium theologicum. This theolo- 
gical bias acts in entirely opposite directions according 
to the character of the writer. Leaving aside the pre- 
judice of those who like Warburton supposed the Greek 
mystic rites to retain scraps of a primitive revelation 
made to mankind in ancient days, a theory now en- 
tirely out of date, we shall find other disturbing pre- 
occupations. Some modern writers inclined to rational- 
ism are much predisposed to imagine that something 
far higher and nobler than ordinary Greek polytheism 
was taught to those initiated at Eleusis and Samothrace, 
that doctrines such as the unity of God and the high 

382 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XIII. 

destinies of the human soul were there made linown to 
the votaries ; while on the other hand strong partisans 
of revealed as opposed to natural religion have declined 
to credit the inner doctrines of Paganism with noble 
thoughts or lofty aspirations, and have revolted, like 
the Fathers of the Christian Church, against the crude 
imagery and obscene-sounding myths connected with the 
Eleusinian festival. 

The learned and critical work of Lobeck, Aglaophamus, 
published some half century ago, finally disposed of the 
views of those who would see in the Mysteries a great 
repository of religious truth laid up there as in an ark of 
safety ; but on the other hand this writer carries his nega- 
tions too far and forgets that it is not fair to judge of 
the inner value of religious ceremonies from their outward 
show. We want to know not only what took place at 
Eleusis but what the mystae thought and felt, and this is 
lost beyond recovery. But we have more materials than 
had Lobeck. His material was gathered almost entirely 
from the statements of early Christian writers who at- 
tacked, and their Pagan opponents who defended, the 
Eleusinian rites. We now possess two or three impor- 
tant inscriptions which relate to them.* The testimony 
of vases has also some weight. And much truth has 
been fairly sifted out by the careful labours of scholars 
skilled in the critical methods of modern times ; in 
particular by Preller and August Mommsen in Germany, 
and Guigniaut and F. Lenormant in France, who have 
succeeded in dispelling many illusions and representing 
the subject, not indeed in detail, but in broad masses 
of light and shade. The excavations at Eleusis, too, 
begun by the English Society of Dilettanti, continued 
by the French School of Athens, and recently com- 

* Dittenberger's Sylloge, 384-387. See also the important inscrip- 
tion from Andania, published by Sauppe. 

Chap. XIII.] Eleusis and the Mysteries. 383 

pleted in a far more thorough way by the Archaeological 
Society of Athens, have furnished many important facts, 
and are likely to add greatly to our knowledge. 

Finally there are three valuable papers on the Eleu- 
sinian Mysteries contributed to the Contemporary Review 
(1880) by Frangois Lenormant, and not only written 
with the accustomed brilliancy of that lamented writer, 
but also marked by care and more than his usual ac- 
curacy, though on the whole it must be allowed that 
Lenormant, a devoted member of the Roman Catholic 
Church, has allowed himself to take too low a view 
of the teaching of Eleusis. But he writes on this 
subject with much learning, and his account is in 
part based on his own studies and excavations at 
Eleusis. nN 

If prayers and sacrifices were the ordinary ritual of 
the Greeks, and purifications and the like their special 
services, the Mysteries were their sacraments ; and in 
fact, as we shall see, they bore in many respects a rather 
close likeness to the most solemn rites of the Latin and 
Greek Churches. 

Although the mysteries at Eleusis outshone all those 
of Greece in importance and splendour, yet we must 
by no means suppose that they had no rivals. At 
Pheneus in Arcadia, at Andania in Messenia, and in a 
number of other places, there were mysteries of con- 
siderable notoriety ; mysterious rites are constantly men- 
tioned in the pages of Pausanias ; in fact it is probable 
that few considerable Greek cities were altogether with- 
out some such institution. And it should be obsen-ed 
that these mysteries are connected in almost every case, 
not only with Chthonic deities, but also with such cults 
as properly belonged to the primitive inhabitants of 
Greek lands, notably the Pelasgi. Demeter, to whom 
in most cases they appertained, was the great earth- 

384 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XIII. 

goddess of the Pelasgic race. And this fact may at 
once suggest to us an explanation of the origin 
of secret rites, an explanation which is, I believe, 
generally accepted as accounting for the existence of 
various secret and mysterious rites among many semi- 
barbarous races. When a conquering race sweeps over 
a country, the conquered make a desperate effort to 
retain their deities and religious observances. But they 
dare not openly practice their accustomed rites ; the in- 
tolerance of their masters might then put an end to 
them ; or, what would still more terrify the barbarous 
imagination, the conquering race might imitate the 
religious practices, and so win over to themselves the 
last and dearest possession of the vanquished, their 
deities. Hence the necessity for secret observances 
handed down privately from father to son. Some acci- 
dent might easily cause peculiar fame and reputation 
to attach to one of these secret cults, and in that case 
its very secretness would tend greatly to add to its 
renown, until strangers sought as a great favour that 
they might be admitted to witness the traditional cele- 
brations. Then the cultus from being famous might 
gradually become worthy of fame ; and when race- 
distinctions of conqueror and conquered were forgotten 
at the place to which it belonged, it might become civic 
or even national, and yet never lose the character of 
secrecy by that time deeply impressed on its very nature. 
The local tradition at Eleusis assigned the origin of 
the mysteries there to Eumolpus, one of the traditional 
Thracian seers and poets who were supposed to have so 
largely influenced Greek religious thought. And this 
may suggest the question whether they were not influenced 
from Phrygia, where dwelt a people kindred to the 
Thracian, and distinguished among the races of anti- 
quity by their devotion to great Chthonic goddesses. 

Chap. XIII.] Eleusis and tJie Mysteries. 385 

This view is advocated by Mr Ramsay in the Encyclo- 
paedia Britannica (Mysteries). In that case they would 
exhibit a fragment of the religion of Asia Minor adopted 
and purified by the Athenians. The ancients, however, 
are very explicit in their statements that there was at 
Eleusis, from very early times, a secret cultus belonging 
to Pelasgians. To trace fully the growth of this cultus 
from stage to stage, until from an obscure local worship 
it became one celebrated throughout the civilised world, 
is not part of the plan of this chapter, nor would it be 
possible in the absence of ancient testimony. The cause 
of that growth was without doubt the close connection 
of Eleusis with Athens, and the adoption by the latter 
city of Eleusinian beliefs and legends. M. Lenormant 
considers that we can trace three successive periods in 
the history of the Eleusinian mysteries. The first is 
represented by the Homeric hymn to Demeter, and 
during its continuance the ceremonies were altogether of 
a commemorative kind. The abduction of Cora, the 
wanderings and grief of her mother, the interference of 
the higher powers, and finally the partial restoration of 
the lost child were all brought before the eyes of the 
initiated ; and at the same time it is likely that these 
scenes were explained as relating to the hiding of seed 
in the earth and its rising in spring, phenomena the 
explanation of which occupies much of the religious 
thought of many primitive peoples. The name of 
lacchus does not occur in the hymn, and its omission 
has been variously explained. But it is only in the 
second period of Eleusinian history that lacchus takes 
an important place. This period begins early indeed, 
but subsequently to the Homeric hymn. In it we trace 
the gradual intrusion of orgiastic and Dionysiac rites, 
lacchus being identified with Bacchus, and that deity 
taking his place at Eleusis as husband or as son of 

2 c 

386 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XIII. 

Persephone. The third period may begin about the 
time of Alexander the Great, and is marked by the 
adoption at Eleusis, under the influence of the school 
of religion called by the name of Orpheus, of the strange 
Cretan legend of Zagreus, and the Oriental rites which 
belong to that deity, the Chthonic Dionysus. These 
are the rites which caused so much scandal in Greece, 
and which, when they spread into Campania, were put 
down by the strong hand of the Roman Republic. Not 
that the Eleusinian rites ever became really licentious or 
indecent ; their close connection with all that was respect- 
able at Athens saved them from that. But the cultus 
of Zagreus found a home at Eleusis, and his legend was 
closely connected with that of the great goddesses. 
Only it was explained away in spiritual and non-natural 
fashion, and was even made edifying by having put into 
it the promise of future life beyond the grave. We might 
perhaps distinguish a fourth period, when neo-Platonic 
philosophers were hierophantae, and the doctrines of 
Eleusis were developed by the Pagans as a parallel and 
counterpoise to those of the Christian church. 

In the mysteries of Eleusis four acts were distin- 
guished — (l) KCidapaK;, the preliminary purification, (2) 
trvCTTacrt?, the rites and sacrifices which preceded and 
prepared the way for the actual celebration, (3) TeXer?? or 
IMvrjaK, the initiation properly so called, and (4) eiroirTeia, 
the last and highest grade of initiation, between which 
and the ij,v7]cn<; an interval of a year was required in the 
case of each mystes. The last two of these stages. alone 
were of private and mysterious nature ; at the first two 
the whole populace assisted freely. The whole festival 
was protected by a sacred truce,* proclaimed like that 

* Dittenberger, Sytt. No. 384. £r. Mus. Inscr., No. 2. The 
duration of the truce was from the middle of Metageitnion, including 
all Boedromion, and until the loth of Pyanepsion. 

Chap. XIII.] Eletisis and tlie Mysteries. 387 

in connection with the Olympian festival by public 
heralds. During the earlier part of the Peloponnesian 
war the Spartans respected this truce ; but after the 
renewal of hostilities and the occupation of Deceleia they 
stopped for many years the procession of mystae to 

We learn from an inscription * of the age of Hadrian, 
that every autumn on the 13th of Boedromion the 
Ephebi of Athens were marshalled, and went in pro- 
cession to Eleusis in order to escort thence on the 14th 
in solemn procession certain sacred objects, to, lepd, 
which were required for the procession from Athens to 
Eleusis, which at that age took place on the ipth of 

The first day of the Eleusinia fell on the isth of 
Boedromion. It was called the assembling, wyvp/xo^j 
because on it the mystae assembled in groups, each 
under the direction and guidance of a mystagogus. At 
the Stoa Poecile they received a sort of address from 
the officials ; the King-archon first ordering those to 
withdraw who were stained by crime or ignominy or 
otherwise unworthy of admission, and the hierophant 
next proclaiming the conditions required of those who 
desired to be initiated, and enjoining purity both inward 
and outward on all. And the sacred herald impressed 
on the assembled votaries the duty of absolute secrecy 
as to all that they might witness, and bade them be 
silent throughout, and not even utter exclamations. 

The second day of the mysteries, the i6th of Boe- 
dromion, was that called aXaSe 'jjivcrTai, " Mystae to the 
sea," because on it the candidates for initiation purified 
alike themselves and the young pig, which was the 
regular victim of the goddesses, in the salt waters of 
the sea, or perhaps, as M. Lenormant maintains, in the 
• Dittenberger, Sylloge, No. 387. 

2 C 2 

388 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XIII. 

salt water of the two lakes called Rheiti on the Sacred 

These days were not at Athens holidays except for 
the mystae. But the 17th of Boedromion was kept as 
a holiday generally. On it there were solemn state 
sacrifices in the Eleusinium at Athens ; and each of the 
mystae offered the sacred pig required from him. On 
the 1 8th also there was a continuation of sacrifices and 
offerings to the two goddesses. 

The grand procession of the mystae from Athens to 
Eleusis is spoken of by the writers* as happening on the 
20th of the month. The inscription already cited as- 
signs it to the 19th. Possibly by the time of Hadrian 
the day had been changed, or it may be, as Dittenberger 
suggests, that as the procession did not reach Eleusis 
until after sunset on the 19th, it was reckoned as be- 
longing to the 20th. It bore the name of lacchus, be- 
cause in it the statue of lacchus was borne from Athens 
to Eleusis, escorted by the Ephebi and followed by the 
crowd of the mystae, each bearing a lighted torch. The 
march was ordered by the lacchagogus ; the statue was 
attended by two priestesses, and followed by bearers, 
who carried the cradle and the playthings of the infant 
deity. The procession kept up a constant singing of 
hymns, of which we may form some idea from the 
imitations of them in the Frogs ; at each of the shrines 
on the Sacred Way it stopped to make sacrifices and 
libations, to sing hymns and perform sacred dances. 
Naturally it moved but slowly, and, though starting at 
daybreak, did not reach Eleusis till late at night. 
Reaching the spot, the mystae found some shelter or 
encampment to protect them from the weather during 
their stay at Eleusis. 

Existing materials enable us to discover what the 
* Euripides, Ion, 1. 1076, &c. 

Chap. XIII.] Eleusis and the Mysteries. 389 

temenos at Eleusis, which was the scene of the mysteries, 
was like. Thrice have excavations taken place on the 
spot. In 1806 the Society of Dilettanti made some 
small excavations ; * but the whole site being then oc- 
cupied by a modern village, they were unable to bring 
their attempt to any satisfactory issue ; and most of 
their conclusions have been set aside by further evi- 
dence. Next, in i860, M. Fr. Lenormant, then attached 
to the French School of Athens, made some excavations 
and laid bare the design of the Propylaea ; but the 
talents of that brilliant but hasty generalizer were un- 
suited to the slow labours of excavation, and not much 
solid gain accrued. Since 1882 the Athenian Archaeo- 
logical Society has set to work in a most methodical 
way to lay bare the whole plan of the great a'r]Kd'i, or 
mystical assembly hall, after removing the whole of the 
modern village which occupied the ground. The ■n-panTLicd 
of that society for 1882-1885 contain plans and details 
showing what progress has been made.f The plan which 
accompanies this paper is taken from Dr. Doerpfeld's plan 
in the official guide to Eleusis of 1889 (see next page). 

We cannot here attempt any complete exposition of 
the site with its remains of early, later, and Roman 
buildings. Some of the most interesting places, such as 
the "joyless rock" and the well Callichoron have not 
yet been identified. But the main features of the site 
are clear, and in particular the great hall of initiation 
can be studied in detail, and it is to that in the main 
that our attention must be directed. 

The remains, as they stand, are mostly of the Roman 
age. But nevertheless it is probably fair to regard them 
as giving us the general plan of the great hall which 

* A plan, representing the views of the Dilettanti, will be found in 
Leake's Attica. 
t See also Bull. Corr. Hell., 1884, p. 65. 

g^^ Earig Walls 

Buildings destroyed btj Xerxes 
Buildings of Pericles & additions 

Later Buildings 


^2 ^40 joMetrcs"'""''^''^'' ■"■""■'"''■ 


Chap. XIII.] Eleusis and the Mysteries. 391 

was built in the times after the Persian wars to take the. 
place of the much smaller hall (see plan) which the 
Persians had destroyed. One sees immediately how 
wrong it would be to give the name "temple" to this 
building, and how radically it differs from all Greek 
temples in design. The Greek temple was a casket 
made to contain the statue of a deity and the dedicated 
gifts of his votaries ; but it was never meant to hold a 
throng. All the great religious processions and cere- 
monies went on, not in the temples, but in the open air 
outside. Even sacrifices were offered not within the 
sacred buildings but at the great altars of sacrifice which 
stood in the open air, heaped high with the ashes of 
victims. Anything like congregational worship was en- 
tirely foreign to Greek ideas. But the hall at Eleusis 
contained no statue, and no offerings of the faithful. It 
was meant merely for use during the celebrations, to 
hold and to shelter from rain and cold the multitude of 
■ the mystae while they were witnessing the sacred celebra- 
tions, of which presently we shall speak. It was about 
170 feet in length and in breadth, and entered on each 
of three sides by two doors, while all round the walls 
ran stone seats eight tiers high, capable of holding, ac- 
cording to Mr. Philios' estimate, nearly 3000 sitters. All 
the arrangements, the numerous entrances, the great space 
in the midst,the well-ordered seats, bespeak the practical 
sense which is always so conspicuous in Greek buildings ; 
but nothing savours of mystery, of concealment, or decep- 
tion. A concert, a reception, an exhibition would seem 
in such a hall most suitable ; but we cannot help a 
shade of disillusion in reflecting that this was the scene 
of what was most sacred and secret in Greek religion. 

As to the proceedings of the mystae, when they had 
reached Eleusis, we cannot be said to have much definite 
knowledge. In the papers above cited, M. Lenormant 

392 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. Xlll. 

works out for them a time-table almost as complete as 
those set before the members of a modern scientific con- 
gress. And he may not be far from the truth in many 
of his conjectures. We however shall prefer to proceed 
on safer lines and with more caution. In fact we can 
better judge of what happened in the sacred precinct 
than of the order in which it happened. 

During the day-time the mystae fasted, breaking their 
fast, as the Mohammedans do in our time, at sunset. 
And as most of the sacred ceremonies went on at night, 
we must suppose that the day was mostly spent in sleep, 
or in prostration resulting from the excitements of the 
night. Amid the nightly celebrations we can distinguish 
certain interesting ceremonies. 

First the initiated had to rouse in themselves a feeling 
of sympathy with Demeter in her passion. They imi- 
tated the sad wanderings of the goddess who roamed, 
torch in hand, along the shore of Eleusis ; and we are 
told that the lights which they bore looked from a dis- 
tance like a swarm of fire-flies on the shore of the bay. 
They sat like their sorrowing goddess on the "joyless 
rock," and tried to imagine that from them also the sweet 
Persephone had been snatched away. ^ Amid so many 
mystae some must have suffered the loss of their own 
children, and at least to them the feeling that such loss 
was not unknown even to the immortal gods, and perhaps 
might be like the absence of Persephone only temporary, 
must have sometimes come as a strong consolation^ 

Secondly, there was certainly a sacrament of eating 
and drinking. After a nine days' fast Demeter had 
been induced by the persuasive drolleries of lambe or 
Baubo to partake of food and drink, and to change the 
harshness of despair for less passionate grief. The 
votaries of Demeter also broke their fast by eating from 
a sacred vessel and drinking a draught called the KVKsddv 

Chap. XIII.] Eleusis and the Mysteries. 393 

made of meal and water. They also handled certain 
saCred objects ; transferring them from basket to box, 
or from box to basket, according to a fixed ritual. Of 
course such ceremonies are no surprise to the anthropo- 
logist, who knows that in all religions some of the most 
solemn ceremonies are connected with eating and drink- 
ing in common. 
/^ Thirdly, it may be regarded as certain that the crown- 
ing and consummation of the whole celebration at Eleu- 
sis consisted in certain representations of a dramatic 
character, mysteries or miracle plays, which were acted 
in the sacred meeting-hall, and which contained the 
revelations to be made to the initiated. 

But we must begin by dismissing as fanciful and un- 
founded a great deal of modern conjecture on this subject. 
Some modern writers have taxed their ingenuity to 
imagine such noble revelations as should correspond to 
what they think the Eleusinia ought to be. They have 
pictured to themselves elaborate ceremonies, and care- 
fully planned stage effects. And it must be confessed 
that they are not without the support of some ancient 
authorities, who however belong to the last periods of 
Greek literature. For example, the orator Themistius, 
who lived in the fourth century, writes of the mystae : 
" They wander about at first ; they enter on wearisome 
deviations ; they walk about full of suspicion and un- 
certainty in the darkness ; and the nearer they approach 
to the goal, the more terrible everything becomes ; there 
is nothing but trembling, shuddering, sweating and 
stupor. Then a marvellous light falls on them, and 
they enter pure places and meadows, and hear voices, 
and see dances, and witness majestic utterances and 
sacred forms." It is perhaps not strange that some 
writers should have supposed, on the strength of such 
passages as this, that the mystae on their way to the hall 

394 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. Xin. 

of assembly passed through long • underground passages, 
and wandered far in the darkness. And the opinion has 
been widely diffused, though based on slight authority, 
that in these wanderings there were displayed before 
them the terrors of Tartarus, dreadful sights and sounds, 
in sharp contrast to the delights of Elysium supposed 
to be revealed in the hall itself. This view must be 
considered as finally disposed of by the evidence of 
excavation, which has proved that the underground 
passages which the Dilettanti supposed themselves to 
have discovered never existed. The darkling walk 
which was said to be so full of terrors and uncertainties 
could only be the walk from the propylaea to the gates 
of the hall. But we must remember that after their 
daily fast the votaries would be worked up to a pitch of 
excitement. Their expectation would be raised to the 
highest point. And the nights were planned by the 
Attic calendar so as to fall when there was no moon. 
The mystae might therefore be very ready to imagine 
more than they saw. 

But what happened when at last the door of the 
hall was opened, and the torch-bearer appeared with 
his torch to lead the mystae into the sacred place? 
Then at all events, it may be thought, strange sights and 
sounds would be met. The simple answer is that at 
Eleusis there was no provision for the production of 
strange stage-effects. Never at any time was there on 
the shallow stage of a Greek theatre any room for those 
elaborate effects in which modern stage-managers delight. 
All was simplicity and convention. But at Eleusis there 
was not even a stage. The people sat tier above tier 
all round the building, and whatever went on had to go 
on in their midst. If they were dazzled by strange sights, 
these sights must have been very simply contrived. If 
they saw gods descending from the sky or rising from the 

Chap. XIII.] Eleusis and the Mysteries. 395 

ground, they must have been wiUing to spread round the 
very primitive machinery bywhich such ascents and descents 
would be accomplished an imaginative halo of their own. 

In the midst of the crowd the hierophant and his 
colleagues displayed certain sights and uttered certain 
sounds which the people received with trembling vene- 
ration, and filled with a meaning perhaps out of pro- 
portion to the actual phenomena. 

It is the opinion of Lenormant that on successive 
nights there were acted two separate miracle plays, in 
which the parts were taken by the officers of the Eleusinia. 
On the first night the whole story of Demeter and Cora, 
as related in the Homeric hymn, was brought on the 
stage. " Eleusis," says Clement* of Alexandria, " illus- 
trates, by the light of the torches of the SaSou;i^o9, the 
abduction of Cora, the wandering journeys and the 
grief of Deo." The descent into Hades was part of the 
play, and it is possible that advantage may have been 
taken of this circumstance to give instructive pictures of 
the future world, both of the bliss of the virtuous and 
the punishments of the wicked. Other episodes of a 
less instructive nature, such as that of Baubo, were also 
introduced, and it is hard to see how they can have pre- 
sented any but an indecent character. After the long 
wanderings and griefs of the mother had been played 
out, with the details of her sojourn at Eleusis, there 
followed the return of Cora, possibly bringing with her, 
as Stephani and Lenormant maintain,! the young 
lacchus as the fruit of her marriage and her sojourn 
in the realm of shades. The testimony of a number of 
vases and other monuments, in the representations on 
which Triptolemus plays a conspicuous part in con- 

* Cohort, ad Gentes, p. 12 (ed. Potter). 

t But the vases on which Stephani rehed are now interpreted as 
referring to other myths. See Robert, Archaologische Mdrchen, p. 179. 

396 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XIII. 

nection with Demeter and her daughter, seems to indicate 
that the first night's drama did not end there, but went 
on to display the civilizing and beneficial mission of 
Triptolemus, conveying to all lands the knowledge of 
the sowing and reaping of corn. On the vases* we 
commonly see Triptolemus setting out on his sacred 
mission, while mother and daughter stand by to sanction 
his enterprise ; and sometimes Eleusis in person assists 
under the guise of a local nymph. 

The sacred drama of Demeter and Cora constituted 
the yMr)at'i proper. But there was a further degree of 
revelation called eiroTTTeia. Lenormant argues that this 
was imparted in a second drama, exhibited on the re- 
maining night of the ceremonies ; and further that the 
subject of this second drama was the well-known Orphic 
myth of the birth and death of Zagreus, the Chthonic 
Dionysus. We need not here repeat the story, which 
may be found in dictionaries and works on Greek 
mythology, and which is of a peculiarly offensive kind, 
unless interpreted, as the Orphists did interpret it, in an 
altogether fanciful and symbolical manner. Zagreus, it 
will be remembered, was the son of Persephone by Zeus, 
who was slain by the Titans, and his body buried at 
Delphi, all but the heart, which was carried to Olympus 
by Pallas. If this view as to the formal incorporation 
of Orphism in the Eleusinia be true, Zagreus must have 
been accepted as identical with the local lacchus. And 
it must rank as an objection to it that the accepted 
Eleusinian myth gives a different paternity and history 
to lacchus ; but we can scarcely be sure that an incon- 
sistency of this kind would weigh greatly with the 
members of a priestly house. And it is certain that 
early Christian writers mix up in the same sentence the 

* For Triptolemus in vases with Eleusinian subject, see pis. xv., xvi. 
of the Atlas to Overbeck's magnificent Kunstmythologie. 

Chap. XIII.] Eleusis and the Mysteries. 397 

mysteries of Eleusis and those of Orpheus. Also it is 
easy to see how the story of Zagreus could be used, as 
was the closely parallel story of Osiris in Egypt, to illus- 
trate and enforce that doctrine of the future existence 
of the soul which seems certainly to have been inculcated 
at Eleusis. We are therefore inclined rather to agree 
with Lenormant than with Lobeck, who energetically 
denies that the Orphic myth ever found a home at Eleusis. 

The last formal act of the mysteries seems to us 
simple enough, "though it was certainly regarded as no 
unimportant part of the whole. The mystae filled with 
water two vessels which bore the special name of 
plemochoae, and emptied them in libation, turning to 
east and west, and repeating the mystic words iJe, Kve. 
The first was directed to the sky and was a prayer for 
rain, the second to the earth, as a prayer for fertility. 
These simple words are probably part of the oldest Eleu- 
sinian ritual, and show the original character of the whole 
festival to have been a religious service of prayer that 
the corn-sowing might lead to a fair harvest. 

By the 24th of Boedromion the secret parts of the 
mysteries were over ; the festival again became of a 
public nature, and all Athens again kept holiday. Then 
they celebrated the games called Eleusinia, one of the 
most important of Athenian agones, the prize wherein 
consisted of a measure of barley, reaped probably in the 
sacred Rharian plain. The games grew in duration as 
time went on ; at first only occupying one day, they at 
last absorbed quite four. An important part of them 
was the representation of tragedies in the theatre of 
Eleusis. We learn that at one time the plays of 
Aeschylus were by preference selected on account of 
their religious character ; in the Macedonian age the 
Dionysiac artists resorted to Eleusis, and for two or three 
days furnished amusement to the mystae and their visitors. 

39^ New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XIII. 

The return to Athens, Hke the setting out thence, took 
place in solemn procession, the priests joining the 
cortege. At one part at least of its progress the pomp 
must have relapsed into disorder and clamour. For the 
people of Athens went out with masks on their faces to 
meet the returning mystae ; and received them at the 
bridge over the Cephissus * with jests and banter. The 
mystae replied, and a contest ensued of wit or of scurrility, 
in which each tried to surpass the other. Such mixtures 
of jest and religion do not shock the feelings of natives 
of southern Europe. 

There is no good ground for the supposition that the 
Eleusinian priests communicated to the people some 
theology above the common, some mystic doctrine pre- 
served in the archives of Eleusis and handed down from 
age to age. There were rites and representations of a 
symbolic character, well adapted, no doubt, to act upon 
the nerves and imaginations of those present. These 
scenes brought men nearer to the gods, and caused a 
thrill of sympathy with the feelings of the deities to pass 
through human bosoms ; but they did not instruct the 
intellect, still less impart any cosmologic or theogonic 
system. Even the sentences which, as we learn, the 
actors in the divine dramas threw out from time to time 
were full of fancy and mysticism rather than of sober 
meaning. " Aristotle," says Synesius,t " is of opinion that 
the initiated learned nothing precisely, but that they 
received impressions, that they were put into a certain 
frame of mind ! " We can scarcely do better in such a 
matter than adhere to the opinion of Aristotle. 

* Our authorities do not make it clear whether this jesting at the 
bridge belonged to the setting out or the return of the mystae. It 
may well have been a feature of both. 

t Aristot. Fragm. ed. Heitz, p. 40. This editor is however of 
opinion that Aristotle is referring not to the mystae of Eleusis, but to 
those who received his esoteric doctrine. 

Chap. XIII.] Eleusis and the Mysteries. 399 

Preller has summed up the performance as consist- 
ing of the following elements : — hymns, sacred dances, 
inimical scenes, and sudden apparitions, with solemn 
utterances and precepts to accompany them. It is likely 
that besides the human actors, there were puppets, some 
perhaps of considerable size and fitted to impress the 
awakened nerves of the auditors. Deities appeared 
ascending from the earth or descending from heaven ; 
and uttering words of a mysterious kind, to which the 
mystae or their instructors might attach a deeper or 
a simpler meaning according to their taste and fancy. 
The dull would be impressed by the nobility of the 
pageant ; the excitable might fancy that the deities 
themselves were present in bodily form ; and the spiri- 
tually inclined might have their sense of the supernatural 
quickened, and read in sight and sound the promise 
of a better world beyond the grave. For this sub- 
jectivity and variety of impression certainly belonged in 
a marked degree to the mysteries. Full and perfect 
knowledge was said to belong to the hierophant alone ; 
the priests understood much, but some things were 
beyond their comprehension, while the multitude fol- 
lowed the scenes with vague and uncertain surmises. 

The testimony of vase-pictures in regard to the mys- 
teries has often been cited. It must, however, be used 
with extreme caution. The Greeks would never have 
allowed vases to be painted with subjects taken from 
the sacred dramas of Eleusis, even if it had been the 
custom in Greece to transfer to painting scenes as they 
were enacted on the stage. But, as we know, this was 
not the custom ; painting and acting have very different 
sets of laws ; the treatment of the same subject develops 
in quite a different way in the drama from that in which 
it develops in art ; and in particular the architectonic 
laws governing vase-painting are so strict as to prevent 

400 Neiv Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XIII. 

it from attempting to render exactly any group or scene 
from actual life. We therefore have amply sufficient 
reasons for rejecting the fancy of those writers who saw 
in the subjects of a multitude of late Apulian and 
Campanian vases allusions to the mysteries of Dionysus 
and of Demeter. And even the vase paintings which 
depict such subjects as the carrying off of Persephone, 
the wanderings of Demeter, the sending forth of Tripto- 
lemus seem to be in no way connected with the dramas 
of the Eleusinian mysteries ; but follow their own laws 
of development and grouping. Even when the nymph 
Eleusis is present at these scenes, there is an allusion 
to Eleusis as the locality where they originally took 
place, rather than as the spot where they were periodically 

There are, however, a few vases extant, which do not 
in any way betray the secret of the mysteries, nor show 
us the details of the mystic dramas, yet which are useful 
as informing us in some points of detail as to the dress 
of the priests and so forth. Three of the most important 
will be found depicted on the 1 8th plate of Overbeck's 
great Atlas.* No. i8 on the plate represents the admis- 
sion of Heracles to the mysteries at Agrae ; No. 19 
represents the parallel admission of the Dioscuri. On 
No. 20 is a most interesting group of deities and magis- 
trates. The deities are those interested in the festival, 
Demeter, Persephone, Pallas, Triptolemus, Aphrodite and 
Artemis ; the magistrates seem to be the four persons 
highest in authority at Eleusis, the Hierophant, who 
stands by a tripod clad in flowing robes and holding a 
thyrsus, the Epibomius, who carries a young pig and a 
corn sheaf, the Daduchus, who grasps two long torches, 
and the Hierokeryx, who also holds a torch. On all 
three of these vases we see, lying on the ground or in 
* Atlas zur Kunstmythologie. See also text, vol. ii., p. 669. 

Chap. XIII.] Eleusis and the Mysteries. 401 

the hands of votaries, what appear to be bundles of 
twigs, which are supposed, on the authority of the 
scholiast on a passage of Aristophanes,* to be those 
borne by the mystae, and called by them after their 
patron deity Bacchus. 

It may seem not easy to reconcile the account which 
is here given of the Eleusinia with the strong language 
used in regard to them by many ancient writers. Every- 
one knows that it was universally considered by the 
ancients that the doctrine of the continued existence of 
the soul after death was especially proclaimed at Eleusis. 
Some writers even imply that none but the initiated 
had a sure hope in death. Sophocles and Polygnotus 
alike confine the bliss of a future life to those who 
had received the promise of it at Eleusis. Plato speaks 
in the Phaedriis in very high terms of the mysteries ; to 
Plutarch we owe the fine saying that to die is to be 
initiated into the greater mysteries. And that the 
doctrine was supposed to bear also upon conduct in 
this life we may judge from the speech of Andocides 
to his judges, "You are initiated," said he, "that you 
may punish those who commit impiety, and save those 
who defend themselves from injustice." 

But the testimony on which we have relied is on the 
whole fairly trustworthy. The touching and tasting of 
a few mystic substances, and the performance of miracle- 
plays, were all that the disinterested spectator would 
have seen. And of course these things would not have 
in themselves any power to raise the character or reform 
the life. We are told that robbers and murderers were 
initiated, and remained evil still. But it does not follow 
that the pious and the spiritual received no benefit from 
the initiation. The mysteries did not necessarily elevate 

* Knights, 1. 409. 'Za.K.xov eKoXovv .... Koi rois KXddovs ovs ol 
IHICTTai <j)epov(7i. 

2 D 

402 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XIII. 

men's hearts, but they gave those of lofty and spiritual 
minds a chance of being elevated. This must necessarily 
be the character of all ceremonies. If the sacrament of 
the Christian church were in detail described to an in- 
telligent Pagan, would he not also find the mere ceremony 
a trivial thing, and be surprised to hear that many men 
trusted to its recurrence for keeping alive religion in 
their hearts? A ceremony affects people by its sym- 
bolism, and each man interprets the symbolism accord- 
ing to the state of his heart and his belief To the 
vulgar-minded they are vulgar and trivial, to critical and 
uninterested spectators they are tedious and foolish ; but 
to those to whom they have a meaning they are of real 
value ; and the more vague the ceremony, the greater 
is the variety of meaning which can be put into it. Of 
dogmatic teaching, as we have already remarked, there 
was none at Eleusis : only pleasing sights to remain in 
the imagination, and short enigmatical sentences to be 
stored in the memory, all likely to recur to the mind at 
the critical moments of life, and whenever that state of 
nervous exaltation recurred which had existed when they 
were first received at Eleusis. 

( 403 ) 



One of the most interesting spots in Greek legend and 
tradition is Dodona, the religious centre of the rudest 
and most primitive tribes of Greece ; perhaps at one 
time the religious centre of the whole Greek race. The 
site of the sacred place was discovered and excavated 
by M. Carapanos ; and his interesting results are pub- 
lished to the world in a monumental book * written in 

There are many indications in the customs and ritual 
widely prevalent in Greece of the effects produced upon 
the Hellenic race by the physical features of Southern 
Epirus. Everywhere in Greece the river Achelous was 
regarded as the parent and the type of rivers ; and the 
Dodonaean oracle constantly bade all who made applica- 
tion there to offer a sacrifice to Achelous. Near Dodona 
were two other streams also, named Acheron and Cocytus, 
which seem to be prototypes of the rivers which flowed, 
according to the imagination of the epic poets, through 
the fields of the world beyond the grave. 

The divine cultus, which had its seat at Dodona, 
belongs to the deepest and most fundamental strata of 
Hellenic religion. The deities to whom it attached were 
a triad, called by the names of Zeus, Dione and Aphro- 
dite. Similar triads, though bearing other names, are to 
be found in other places where that proto-Greek set of 
* Dodone et ses Ruines. 

2 D 2 

404 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XIV. 

influences, v/hich later writers call Pelasgic, prevailed. In 
Samothrace, for instance, we have a primitive pair of 
deities called Axiokersus and Axiokersa, with their 
child Axieros, constituting a very similar group. And 
the primitive group of Hesiod, who represents Uranus 
and Gaea as giving birth to Eros, offers a close parallel. 
In all these cases we seem led back to a Greek pair, 
the heaven and the earth, with Love which unites and 
springs from the pair. The later religion of the Greeks 
drifted away from the Dodonaean type. The Astarte of 
Syria ousted the Aphrodite of the Pelasgians as an object 
of worship, Dione fell altogether into the background, and 
gave way to Hera and Demeter. But the Pelasgic Zeus 
still held his place. Achilles in the Iliad* wishing to 
make a solemn appeal, turns naturally to him as an 
ancestral deity, " King Zeus of Dodona, the Pelasgian, 
dwelling afar, the ruler of wintry Dodona :" and the Zeus 
of Olympia was but a descendant of the Epirote god ; 
in fact, a beautified and civilized descendant, developed 
on the main lines of Hellenic progress. At Dodona 
there was not, so far as we know, any worthy sculptural 
embodiment of Zeus like the great Olympian statue of 
Pheidias. And whereas Zeus at Olympia was the centre 
of all the beauty, the wisdom and the fancy of Greece, 
the Dodonaean god, amid his stormy mountains, remained 
half a barbarian. His priests were the Selli, who slept 
on the ground and washed not the feet, some college of 
prophets of a kind usual i-ather in Asia than in Greece, 
and his oracle never attained the clearness or the im- 
portance of the voice at Delphi. 

It is in their bearing upon this oracle that recent 
discoveries are most interesting. It is much to have 
revealed the actual scene of the earliest of Greek holy 
places. The spoil in works of art which M. Carapanos 

* xvi. 234. 

Chap. XIV. J Do dona and the Oracles. 405 

has acquired is considerable, and especially interesting, 
because many of the small bronze figures of deities and 
of warriors belong to an early and important phase of 
Greek art. These, however, can only be studied in 
M. Carapanos' plates. The historical and chronological 
data of some of the inscriptions are also valuable. But 
these are detached points. The main value of the trea- 
sures found at Dodona lies in this, that there are among 
them tablets of lead, the inscriptions of which are con- 
nected with the Dodonaean oracle, and which, on the 
whole, afford us a clearer and more vivid notion than 
we had hitherto possessed of the way in which the less 
advanced of the Greeks regarded and used oracular shrines. 
The more important oracles, which were usually con- 
nected with some shrine of Apollo, were clear and articu- 
late in question and in reply. To them kings and states 
and persons of standing brought the problems which had 
perplexed them to be solved by the higher wisdom of 
the god. In carefully arranged order they were intro- 
duced into the sacred shrine, and the priestess from the 
tripod filled with an ecstacy of Apolline inspiration gave 
them their answer, which was carefully taken down, and 
which served often to guide colonies in the choice of a 
place, or nations in the decision between peace and war. 
It has often been remarked that the Greeks as a rule, 
when compared with Oriental peoples, were decidedly 
sceptical as to the value of the utterances of, those in a 
state of nervous exaltation. Plato is something of an 
exception to the rule : in the Timaeus* he remarks that 
foresight of the future does not belong to men sane and 
sensible, but to those under the influence of sleep, disease 
or inspiration. At the Apolline oracles this divine mad- 
ness was systematically used as a means for learning the 
will, and profiting by the wisdom, of the gods. 

* p- 336. 

4o6 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XIV. 

But there were other oracles in which the gods were 
consulted not through the frenzy of the priestess, but 
rather by a systematic taking of omens. Any sound or 
sight might be regarded by the pious as a message from 
the gods. And especially any sudden and unexplained 
phenomenon, lightning, a sneeze, a sudden appearance of 
birds, would be likely to have a deeper meaning than 
appeared on the surface. And the reading of these 
omens was an art or profession which required long 
study, and carefully trained faculties. The Homeric 
seer Chalcas was no prophet, inspired by heaven, but a 
highly-trained professional man, a 877/^^06/3769, who had 
learned to spy out the true but occult meaning of all the 
phenomena in which it was likely that the divine purposes 
would reveal themselves, more especially in the flight of 
birds, and in the convolutions of the internal organs of 
animals offered in sacrifice. The taking of omens was 
the work of hereditary clans of skilled observers. 

The history of the oracle at Dodona seems to cover 
all the distance between the mere taking of omens and 
the developed Apolline oracles. That it was by omens, 
some of them of a very primitive kind, that the will of 
Zeus was made manifest seems clear. Yet in the later 
age of Greece, at all events, the responses of Dodona 
were as systematic and as clear as those of Delphi. It 
will be necessary to set forth the evidence for both of 
these statements. 

Eustathius, in commenting on the already cited pas- 
sage of the Iliad, which speaks of the Selli of Dodona 
as washing not the feet and sleeping on the ground, 
regards it as a proof that oracles were sometimes given 
there by dream. Of course we cannot say that it was 
not so : but the Homeric passage on the face of it 
appears rather to refer to the rude and outdoor life of 
the Selli than to any custom such as is inferred. That 

Chap. XIV.] Dodona and tJie Oracles. 407 

the oak-tree at Dodona was an ordinary source of super- 
natural wisdom is clear from several passages in the 
Tragedians. Aeschylus * and Sophocles f both speak of 
the vocal oaks as the source of oracles in the shrine of 
Zeus, and in fact the picturesque expression of Sopho- 
cles '■ many-tongued oak" seems clearly to point to the 
murmuring of the oak leaves as an articulate language. 
Again, Servius in commenting on a passage of the 
AeneidX speaks of a stream which flowed at the foot 
of this oak as a source of inspiration. The meaning of 
the frequent mention of doves (TreXetaSe?) in connexion 
with the Dodonaean oracle is more ambiguous ; for be- 
sides the doves which seem to have been connected with 
the temple, and which may in early times have given 
auguries by their flying and their cooing, the name 
of " doves " was later transferred to the priestesses, who 
spoke with more articulate voice. There was another 
curious mode of taking responses, which seems to imply 
that all the place was sacred, and even the wind that blew 
there was not devoid of purpose and meaning. The Cor- 
cyreans dedicated near the shrine a bronze tripod, over 
which stood a bronze man holding in his hand a whip, 
to which astragali were attached. In the wind these 
astragali struck the tripod, and from the noise which 
resulted omens were sometimes taken. 

We have, however, abundant proof that in the historical 
ages of Greece the responses at Dodona were given by 
priestesses, and Plato § in one place says that the Dodo- 
naean priestess spoke like the Delphic under the dominion 
of an ecstasy. Whether this implies that the oracle in 
Epirus became altogether like those of Apollo we cannot 
be sure : it may be that the utterances of the Peleiades 
were still to some extent controlled by the omens given 

* Prom. Vine, 8si. t Trachiniae, 1148. % iii. 466. 

§ Phaedrus, p. 244 b. 

4o8 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XIV. 

by the rustling of the branches of the sacred tree, or the 
moaning of doves in its branches. At all events the mere 
inarticulate voice of tree and dove would need to be put 
into words by intelligent agency. 

We possess in the text of Greek writers several re- 
sponses given on solemn occasions by the Dodonaean 
oracle. On one occasion Herodotus says * the people of 
Apollonia applied to Dodona because the sacred flocks 
of Apollo were stricken with barrenness. The answer 
came that " The woes were come on account of Euenius, 
the guardian of the flocks, whom the people of Apollonia 
had wrongfully deprived of sight [for letting wolves slay 
some of the flock]. The gods had themselves sent the 
wolves, nOr would they ever cease to exact vengeance 
for Euenius till the ApoUoniates made him whatsoever 
atonement he liked to ask." Truly Euenius seems to 
have been a person fortunate in his friends. In Demos- 
thenes' oration against Meidias,t there is cited a response 
which seems to show that the Athenians of that age were 
by no means too much given to divine service. " The 
priest of Zeus signifies to the Demos of the Athenians ; 
because ye let pass the due time of sacrifice and embassy, 
therefore he bids you send quickly a chosen embassy, three 
oxen to Zeus Naius, and with each ox two sheep, and to 
Dione a cow and a lamb for sacrifice, besides a brazen 
table as an addition to the trophy dedicated by the Athe- 
nian Demos." One of the Dodonaean oracles to Athens 
was, if we may believe Pausanias, of most fatal con- 
sequence : it bade the Athenians "ZixeXtav oIkI^eiVjX and 
was one of the causes which induced them to undertake 
their fatal expedition to Sicily. Of course the god came 
out of the business quite well ; he had meant that they 
were to settle a small hill near Athens called Sikelia, and 
not the Island of Sicily. 

* ix. 93. t P- 531- t Paus. viii. 11, 12. 

Chap. XIV.] Dodona and the Oracles. 409 

It would be easy to multiply these citations : the 
known Dodonaean responses are collected by M. Cara- 
panos,* and are both numerous and important. But it 
is time to pass on to the discoveries of the excavator, 
which throw especial light on the method in which en- 
quiries were made, and on the kinds of questions put to 
the god. Curiously, M. Carapanos did not find any com- 
plete or certain instance of a response to questions : 
probably these were taken away by the votaries ; but 
of written questions he found abundance. 

These questions were graven on leaden tablets ; most 
of them are made by private persons, in most cases pro- 
bably inhabitants of the more backward districts' of 
Greece, Epirotes and Aetolians and Acarnanians, and 
in their naive directness and their defective grammar, 
they seem to bring before us clear proof of the simple 
faith, as well as of the primitive manners, of those who 
consulted the god.j 

We must first cite a few questions of political character, 
put by Greek civic communities. The people of Tarentum 
question the oracle of Zeus Naius and of Dione as to 
means of prosperity i^epl iravrvyiai). A more detailed 
question is put by some (unascertained) neighbours of the 
Molossians, who enquire as to a proposed alliance with 
that people. And the Corcyreans put a question which 
to those who know their history sounds somewhat like a 
bitter jest: "to what god or hero they must offer 
prayer or sacrifice, to secure the blessing of internal 
harmony ? " 

The enquiries of private persons are more numerous, 

* p. 142, foil. 

t These oracle inscriptions are treated in^^some detail by Mr. E. S. 
Roberts in the first volume of the Journal of Hellenic Studies, where 
other discussions of them are also cited. I need scarcely apologize 
for freely using Mr. Roberts' versions, and his results. , 

4IO New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XIV. 

and naturally of a more trivial character. Sometimes 
they are quite general. One Eubander, or Evander, and 
his wife would fain be informed to what god or what 
hero they must sacrifice in order to attain to prosperity. 
A native of Ambracia puts a similar request ; he enquires 
in regard to health, fortune and prosperity, and would 
fain learn to what god he must offer his prayers in order 
to gain these ends. Such requests as these have a some- 
what formal and conventional air, like the prayers of 
regular attendants at worship. But others are more de- 
tailed and of more interest. One Lysanias enquires ' 
whether the child with which his wife or mistress Annyla 
is pregnant is his own. One Agis, who has lost some 
cushions and pillows, and who is uncertain whether the 
theft is due to strangers or to some member of his own 
household, tries to make Zeus decide the question for 
him. Another votary seems to ask in an inscription, 
which we possess only in fragmentary form, whether it 
will be to his advantage to buy some town-house and 
farm which are in his mind. A capitalist asks whether 
if he takes to sheep-farming it will prove a good invest- 
ment. One Heracleidas asks the god whether any other 
child besides Aegle will be born to him. 

Sometimes the questions are so worded that they will 
be intelligible only to the god, perhaps a necessary pre- 
caution, if the honesty of the Peleiades or the priests was 
not above suspicion. Diognetus, son of Aristomedes, an 
Athenian, "begs and entreats you. Lord and Master, 
Zeus Nai'os, and Dione, and you Dodonaeans, to grant 
(a certain favour) to himself and all his well-wishers and 
his mother Clearete." As however this inscription is in- 
complete, the nature of the favour asked may have been 
stated in the part of it which has perished. The follow- 
ing is clearer. A certain person enquires "whether he 
shall be successful in trading in such a way as seems to 

Chap. XIV.] Dodona and the Oracles. 41 1 

him expedient, carrying on at the same time his own 
craft." This votary clearly preferred that the god only, 
and not his ministers, should have a voice in his affairs. 
In another case a group of persons who make a common 
enquiry seem to prefer to limit the reply to certain lines. 
They ask "whether they shall best prosper by going to 
Elina (a place not mentioned elsewhere) or to Anacto- 
rium, or by effecting a certain sale." Evidently they 
had discussed the matter well among themselves, and 
though they were willing to let the god decide among 
their divergent views, did not care to run the risk 
of his suggesting some course which would please 

Requests such as these roughly engraven on lead 
tablets were laid before the god. But of the method in 
which answers were given the excavations give us no clear 
information. Nor is there among our tablets any certain 
specimen of a written response, though there are a few 
fragments which may be parts of such responses. These 
questions, couched in rude and uncouth dialectic forms, 
and full of bad grammar and false spelling, seem to bring 
vividly before us the hopes and fears, the customs and 
beliefs of a bygone age. The rude races who dwelt 
around stormy Dodona, Epirotes and Acarnanians and 
Locrians preserved their belief in the responses of the 
gods, when more polished and sceptical races of Greece 
had ceased to believe in any god except Fortune. The 
questions which they brought to Dodona were not 
merely such as modern people would naturally bring 
to a priest, questions of cult and sacrifice, but also such 
as we might put to a physician, a lawyer, or a stock- 
broker. Our own ancestors of a few generations back 
might have put such questions to the wise woman, or 
have opened the Bible at random to try and light on a 
solution for them in a Scripture-text, but they would not 

412 New Chapters in Greek History. [Ohap. XIV. 

have carried them to the highest shrine of their religion. 
Even the Roman and Greek churches, which in so many 
ways carry on the customs of pagan religion, do not pro- 
vide any fortune-telling apparatus. Prayer and purifica- 
tion, sacrifice and mystery, all survive in Christendom, 
but the oracles are dumb, and the needs which they 
supplied have to find satisfaction elsewhere. 

( 413 ) 



The modern historians of Greece are much divided on 
the question where a history of Hellas ought to end. 
Curtius stops with the battle of Chaeroneia and the pros- 
tration of Athens before the advancing power of Macedon. 
Grote narrates the campaigns of Alexander, but stops 
short at the conclusion of the Lamian War, when Greece 
had in vain tried to shake off the supremacy of his 
generals. Thirlwall brings his narrative down to the 
time of Mummius, the melancholy sack of Corinth, and 
the constitution of Achaia as a Roman province. Of 
these divergent views we regard that of the German 
historian as the most correct. 

The plan of Bishop Thirlwall compels him to speak of 
Hellas as the land of the Greeks for centuries after the 
centre of gravity of the Hellenic world had been trans- 
ferred to Syria and Egypt, to Antioch, Pergamus, and 
Alexandria. It is as if a historian of the Dorians should 
confine his attention to the strip of land called Doris ; or 
a historian of the Arabs should omit to speak of the 
Mohammedan conquests in the three continents. 

The limits which Mr. Grote has imposed on himself are 
equally unfortunate. He details the victories of Alexan- 
der, but has to pass by the results of those victories. He 
shows us the Greeks breaking the narrow bounds of 
their race and becoming masters of Asia and Africa, but 

414 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

gives us no account of what they did with those conti- 
nents when they had acquired them. He leads us into 
the middle of the greatest revolution that ever took place 
in Hellenic manners and life, and then leaves us to find 
our way through the maze as best we can. 

The historic sense of Grote did not exclude prejudices, 
and in this case he was probably led astray by political 
bias. At the close of his ninety-sixth chapter, after 
mentioning the embassies sent by the degenerate Athen- 
ians to King Ptolemy, King Lysimachus, and Antipater, 
he throws down his pen in disgust, "and with sadness 
and humiliation brings his narrative to a close." Athens 
was no longer free and no longer dignified, and so Mr. 
Grote will have done with Greece at the very moment 
when the new Comedy was at its height, when the 
Museum was founded at Alexandria, when the plays of 
Euripides were acted at Babylon and Cabul, and every 
Greek soldier of fortune carried a diadem in his baggage. 
Surely the historian of Greece ought either to have 
stopped when the iron hand of Philip of Macedon put an 
end to the liberties and the political wranglings of Hellas, 
or else persevered to the time when Rome and Parthia 
crushed Greek power between them, like a ship between 
t wo icebergs.; 

No doubt his reply would be, that he declined to regard 
the triumph abroad of Macedonian arms as a continua- 
tion of the history of Hellas. In Philip of Macedon he 
sees only the foreign conqueror of the Greeks, in Alex- 
ander a semi-barbarian soldier of fortune. No doubt it 
is possible, by accepting the evil told us by historians 
about Alexander, and rejecting the good, to make him 
appear a monster. But were Alexander even less noble 
and less far-sighted than Mr. Grote supposes him to have 
been, this would not in any way alter the tendencies of 
his conquests. Wherever the Macedonian settled, the 

Chap. XV.] The Successors of Alexander. 415 

Greek became his fellow-citizen, and had over him the 
advantage of a greater talent for civil life. The Mace- 
donians spoke the Greek language, using a peculiar 
dialect, but that dialect disappears with their other pro- 
vincialisms when they suddenly become dominant. We 
find no trace in Asia of any specially Macedonian deities ; 
it is the gods of Hellas that the army of Alexander bears 
into the East. Even in manners and customs there seems 
to have been small difference between Greek and Mace- 
donian ; in our own day many primitive Greek customs, 
which have died out elsewhere, survive in remote districts 
of Macedonia. No doubt there was a great deal of 
Thracian blood among the hardy shepherds who followed 
the standards of Philip and Alexander ; but if not only 
the nobility but even the common people had no lan- 
guage, religion, or customs different from those of the 
Greeks, how was it possible to prevent the races from 
becoming mingled ? The more wealthy and educated 
classes in Macedonia were mostly Greek by blood, and 
entirely Greek in everything else except the practice of 
self-government. Wherever Alexander went. Homer and 
Aristotle went too. In the wake of his army came the 
Greek philosopher and man of science, the Greek archi- 
tect and artist, the Greek merchant and artisan. And 
Alexander must have known this. When he tried to 
fuse Greeks, Macedonians, and Persians, into one race, 
he must have known that whose blood soever ruled the 
mixture, Greek letters, science, and law must needs gain 
the upper hand. He must have known that the Greek 
schoolmasters would make Homer and Hesiod familiar 
to the children ; that the strolling companies of Dionysiac 
artists would repeat in every city the masterpieces of the 
Greek drama ; and that the Odes of Simonides and Pindar 
would be sung wherever there was a Greek lyre. 

It is well known that the ancients themselves took a 

4i6 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

view of the career of Alexander very different from Mr. 
Grote's. We will cite but a single passage from Plutarch, 
who wrote ages after the glamour and glare, which for 
long after Alexander's death concealed the reality of 
his achievements, had died away: "He taught the Hyr- 
canians the institution of marriage, the Arachosians 
agriculture ; he caused the Sogdians to support, not kill, 
their parents, the Persians to respect, not wed, their 
mothers. Wondrous philosopher! who made the Indians 
worship the gods of the Greeks, the Scythians bury their 
dead instead of eating them. Asia, ordered by Alex- 
ander, read Homer ; the sons of the Persians, Susians, 
Gedrosians, repeated the tragedies of Euripides and So- 
phocles." This may be rhetorical, but still the rhetoric 
is very careful in its sweep to avoid collision with fact. 
It was precisely the people of North India who did 
receive the Greek deities ; it was, above all tragedians, 
Sophocles and Euripides who were in favour with the 
Asiatics. What Plutarch says about the Sogdians is 
completely confirmed by Strabo. 

The truth is, that the history of Greece consists of two 
parts, in every respect contrasted one with the other. 
The first recounts the stories of the Persian and Pelo- 
ponnesian wars, and ends with the destruction of Thebes 
and the subjugation of Athens and Sparta. The Hellas 
of which it speaks is a cluster of autonomous cities in 
the Peloponnesus, the Islands, arid Northern Greece, 
together with their colonies scattered over the coasts _of 
Italy, Sicily, Thrace, the Black Sea, Asia Minor, and 
Africa. These cities care only to be independent, or at 
most to lord it over one ^another. Their political insti- 
tutions, their religious ceremonies, their customs, are civic 
and local. Language, commerce, a common Pantheon, 
and a common art and poetry are the ties that bind 
them together. In its second phase, Greek history 

Chap. XV.] The Successors of Alexander. 417 

begins with the expedition of Alexander. It reveals to 
us the Greek as everywhere lord of the barbarian, as 
founding kingdoms and federal systems, as the instructor 
of all mankind in art and science, and the spreader of 
civil and civilized life over the known world. In the first 
period of her history Greece is forming herself, in her 
second she is educating the world. We will venture to 
borrow from the Germans a convenient expression, and 
call the history of independent Greece the history of 
Hellas, that of imperial Greece the history of Hellenism. 

In England Hellenism has been less fortunate as to 
its historians than in Germany, where it has occupied the 
attention, among othei's, of Niebuhr, Heeren, and Droysen. 
The period of the Diadochi or Successors of Alexander 
does not attract the student. The tone of Greek life was 
everywhere lowered, and manners had become luxurious 
and corrupt. Literature survived, and in some branches 
such as the Idyl and the Epigram flourished, but it had 
lost its freshness and become full of affectations. Philo- 
sophy was eagerly pursued, and went on developing, but 
there was no Plato to write it. It is difficult to discover 
any political matter of interest amid the incessant wars 
of the Antiochi and Ptolemies. To most readers Hellas, 
in the third and second centuries before our era, is like a 
man smitten with foul and incurable disease, and they are 
glad when the Roman conquest gives the coup de grdce, 
and affords an opportunity of decent burial. And yet 
in this unattractive period is to be found the transition 
from ethnic and national to universal morality, from 
merely civic or autocratic to federal or imperial govern- 
ment, from ancient to modern sentiment and feeling. In 
it domestic life was largely developed, and the ground 
was prepared in which the seeds of Christianity were to 
be sown. 

To write the history of Hellenism requires talents of no 

2 E 

41 8 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

common order. In this field we have no leading authority 
like Thucydides or Tacitus. We have to piece together 
the scattered testimonies of Justin, Appian, and Dio- 
dorus ; sometimes to try and fill up the enormous gaps 
they leave with quotations from writers like Zoriaras and 
the Syncellus. An incidental statement of Pliny, of 
Lucian, or of Strabo, may contain all that we know of 
what happened during half a century in a great kingdom. 
These remarks apply of course rather to the eastern 
provinces of the empire of Alexander than to those 
bordering on the Mediterranean. Of the latter we have 
a tolerably consecutive account, especially when the 
Roman history of Pol^ius comes to our help. But in 
all cases the historians are far more ready to record 
the intestine wars which raged in the kingdoms of the 
Diadochi, and the crimes of their rulers, than to give us 
any notion of the systems of government, the municipal 
constitutions, the laws, the commerce, and the customs 
prevailing in the world of Hellenism. Yet these are the 
subjects on which now we eagerly desire information, 
while we are comparatively indifferent as to the results 
of the combats of the mercenaries of the Antiochi, the 
Antigoni, and the Ptolemies. 

To a certain extent the silence of historians is com- 
pensated by the existence of less accessible but deeper 
and more trustworthy sources of information. The Greek 
inscriptions found in the cities of Asia Minor furnish us 
with numerous details as to the civic life, the habits, 
and the religious observances of the dwellers in those 
cities under Seleucid and Roman rule. From existing 
Egyptian papyri M. Lumbroso has compiled an account 
of the government, the trade, and the general condition 
of Egypt under the Ptolemies. Professor Helbig has 
traced in the mural paintings of Pompeii the entire 
history of painting from Alexander the Great onwards. 

Chap. XY.] The Sitccessors of Alexander. 419 

and by an admirable induction has established a num- 
ber of propositions as to the nature of the art of the 
Hellenistic world ; whence we may learn much as to 
the emotions and perceptions of that world. Of the 
Greek kingdoms of Bactria and Cabul scarcely any 
memorial remains, except the abundant and interesting 
coins from which General Cunningham has been able 
to extract a surprising amount of information. Using 
these and other sources, and especially the masterly 
history of Droysen, who has brought all the rivulets 
of information together and united them into a stream 
of narrative, we will endeavour slightly to sketch the 
main characteristics of Hellenism, and to estimate the 
effects of the conquests of Alexander on Greece and 
Macedonia, on the various provinces of the old Persian 
Empire, in fact on the whole Oriental world, from 
Epirus on the west to India on the east, and from 
Pontus in the north to Egypt and Libya on the south. 
How slight such a sketch must be within the present 
limits of space, it is hardly necessary to point out. 

In no country were the changes produced by Alex- 
ander more striking than in his own Macedonia. Before 
his time and his father's, that land was a kingdom of 
the old Homeric type, whose ruler was ava!^ avSpcav, but 
no despotic lord, and which was full of a sturdy and 
free population of ploughmen and shepherds. Even 
Philip never places his effigy on his coins nor calls 
himself King. But the Antigonid princes who after- 
wards ruled in Macedon were despots of the Asiatic 
type. They wore the diadem, were surrounded by a 
court, and were the centre of a bureaucratic and military 
system. They regarded their people as taxable pro- 
perty and as material for the manufacture of armies. 
And that people itself was sadly fallen and diminished. 
The Macedonian, lord throughout Asia, was at home 

2 E 2 

420 . New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

little better than a thrall. While he pushed his con- 
quests down the Indus and up the Nile, he was at 
home scarcely able to make head against barbarous 
neighbours. All the youth and energy of the country 
flowed in a never-ceasing stream towards the East ; only 
the unenterprising of the population remained at home. 
And this led to the most disastrous results. It was the 
age of the great eastward expeditions of the Gauls. A 
large body of them poured, about 280 B.C., through the 
passes of the Balkans down upon the devoted land. 
The King, Ptolemy Ceraunus, fell in battle, and like a 
flood the Gallic swarms swept over the plains of 
Macedon, slaying, torturing, burning, and committing 
every hideous excess which the heart of a barbarian can 
invent. In their own land, the Macedonians felt ten- 
fold all the misery and shame which they had inflicted 
on Persia. This was no case of the overthrow of one 
Greek state by another, it was no contest between civi- 
lized or semi-civilized nations, but the wasting of a 
settled land by a barbarous horde, whose only desires 
were to satisfy every brutal and bloodthirsty passion, to 
carry off all that could be carried, and to leave nothing 
behind but a broad track of fire and blood. For 
a moment the militia of the land, rallied by the 
gallant Sosthenes, who ought to be better known to 
history, made a stand, but again they were swept away 
by fresh waves of barbarism. Under Brennus the Gauls 
swarm southwards until they reach the very gates of 
Greece. And for a moment Greece remembers her old 
self, and the day when the Persians were advancing on 
the same road. Thermopylae must again be garrisoned. 
Antiochus, King of Syria, remembered his relationship 
to Hellas, and sent a contingent. The Boeotians, 
Phocians, and Aetolians mustered in force, Athens de- 
spatched 1500 men. The story of the defence of the 

Chap. XV.] The Successors of Alexander. 421 

pass reminds one of old Greek days. Brennus, like 
Xerxes, could not force a way until traitors showed him 
the old path over the mountains ; then like Xerxes he 
took the defenders in rear, and but for the presence of 
Athenian triremes at hand to which they could fly, the 
little Greek army must have shared the fate of Leonidas. 
But the pass was forced, and Aetolia and Phocis lay 
at the mercy of the barbarians. Xerxes had made 
an attempt upon Delphi, and the god of Delphi had 
interfered to protect his temple ; but, in spite of fears, 
the rich treasures of the temple induced the Gauls to 
repeat the sacrilegious attempt. We fancy that we are 
reading romance rather than history, when we find in 
Justin's narrative how Apollo appeared in person, accom- 
panied by the warlike virgins Athene and Artemis, and 
wrought terrible havoc on the invading hosts ; how an 
earthquake and a terrific storm completed the discom- 
fiture of the Gauls, and Brennus fell by his own hand. 
At all events, whether the foes of the invaders at Delphi 
were mortal or superhuman, certainly they penetrated no 
further into ' Greece. Those who were not destroyed 
made a hasty retreat northward. Meantime their breth- 
ren, who had remained in Macedon, had been put to 
the sword by the hereditary King, Antigonus Gonatas, 
who had enticed them into his own deserted camp, and 
then fallen on them while they were feasting and spoil- 
ing. A third body of Gauls crossed over at Byzantium 
into Asia and founded the Gallo-Greek kingdom of 
GaJ^tia in the heart of Phrygia. A fourth body settled 
in Thrace, and levied tribute on the Greek city of 

The flood had spent its fury and had ebbed, and as 
it retired it left Macedon and Greece exhausted and 
depopulated, but not demoralized. Almost all great out- 
bursts in the life of nations have followed the successful 

422 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

repulse of a powerful invader. So Holland awoke after 
expelling the Spaniard, and the England of Elizabeth 
after frustrating him. ^ So in Greece the great burst of 
Hellenic literature and art followed on the retreat of 
Xerxes. And after the repulse of the Gauls, we find 
among the northern Greeks a political revival, and even 
a certain after-bloom of art, if the theory be true which 
sees in the Apollo Belvedere and the Artemis of the 
Louvre the representations in contemporary sculpture of 
the deities of Delphi, as they appeared to the terror- 
stricken barbarians. It was Antigonus Gonatas, as we 
said, who so severely defeated the Gauls : and the same 
monarch before his death had formed a new Macedon. 
During his reign Greek culture and manners advanced 
ever more and more towards the north, and influenced 
even the rude Triballi and Dardani as far as the Danube. 
The population began to recover and the cities to grow, 
and Macedon to become once more a great power. The 
old Homeric freedom was gone for ever, but order and 
civilization had taken its place. 

If we turn to the Hellas which was contemporary with 
Antigonus and his successors, we shall find that the 
differences between it and the Hellas of Thucydides 
were rather deep-seated and radical than prominent and 
obvious. Thessaly was incorporated with the Macedonian 
kingdom. But in all Greece south of Thessaly the 
appearance of autonomy remained. No Macedonian 
harmost or oligarchy held sway in the cities. Only onfe 
or two of them, notably Corinth, usually contained a 
Macedonian garrison. Had the Greek cities now been 
content with an obscure autonomy, the kings of Macedon 
would probably have seldom interfered with them. But 
any city which adopted a lofty tone in dealing with its 
neighbours was sure to attract the attention of the 
King ; any city which attained wealth and prosperity 

Chap. XV.] The Successors of Alexander. 423 

would certainly be called on to pay a subsidy to his 
exchequer. The Greeks, though much of their spirit was 
gone, were not so humbled as willingly to accept this 
position. Two courses were open to them. The meaner 
and more slavish of the cities sought to buy for them- 
selves the protection of one of the new kings of Asia 
or Africa by embassies, flatteries, and presents. The 
more sturdy and independent cities, in their efforts to 
escape from a humiliating position, made a great political 

This was the federal system of government. Hitherto, 
in Greece, either the cities had been independent one of 
another, or, if a confederacy was formed, the lead in it 
was always taken by one powerful state, which was 
practically master of the rest. The Athens of Pericles 
was dictator among the cities which had joined her 
alliance. Corinth, Sparta, Thebes, were each the political 
head of a group of towns, but none of the three 
admitted these latter to an equal share in their councils, 
or adopted their political views. Even in the Olynthian 
League, the city of Olynthus occupied a position quite 
superior to that of the other cities. But the Greek cities 
had not tried the experiment of an alliance on equal 
terms. This was now attempted by some of the lead- 
ing cities of the Peloponnese, and the result was the 
Achaean League, whose history sheds a lustre on the 
last days of independent Greece, and whose generals will 
bear comparison with the statesmen of any Greek Republic. 

Twice a year the ordinary assemblies of the League 
were held at Aegium ; but extraordinary assemblies 
might be convoked by the General to meet elsewhere. 
By this Assembly was made the selection of the officers 
of the League ; the General, who was its head, and his 
colleagues, the Admiral, the Master of the Horse, the 
Secretary, and ten Councillors. The Assembly had 

424 New Chapters m Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

further to deliberate on, and either accept or reject, 
measures brought before it by the Senate of the League. 
The voting took place, not by counting individuals, but 
by cities, and we have reason to believe that in the 
manner of reckoning the votes by individual cities some 
allowance was made for the influence of property. How 
this was done remains doubtful in the absence of exact 
details ; perhaps there was some regulation that the 
journey to Aegium should not be undertaken by all 
who had a fancy, but only by certain approved persons. 
Mr. Freeman, in his History of Federal Government, 
suggests that the length of the journey and the necessity 
of remaining for some time from home would in itself 
deter the poor of the Achaean cities from attending 
the meetings at Aegium, but it seems doubtful if that 
natural restriction were the only one. All the cities 
would appear to have had an equal number of votes, 
but it was quite a matter of arrangement what was 
reckoned as a city. In the case of the Messenians, for 
example, three cities were accepted as members of the 
League, and then all the rest counted as one city of 
"the Messenians." So some of the suburbs of Mega- 
lopolis claimed to enter the League separately. We find 
here, then, no pure democracy, but a political system 
carefully constructed on representative and timocratic 
principles. The General was almost absolute master, but 
his power ceased at the end of a year, and he was not 
immediately re-eligible, so that he could hold his office 
in alternate years only. Aratus, who formed the League 
and was General seventeen times, is one of the most 
interesting characters of antiquity. His statesmanship 
and his power of ruling men were unrivalled,' and, con- 
sidering the circumstances of the age, it adds greatly to 
our interest in his character that, as a soldier, he was 
more than suspected of cowardice. 

Chap. XV.] The Successors of Alexander. 425 

The rival of the Achaean League in the Peloponnese 
was a reformed and renewed Sparta. Sparta was the 
last city in Greece to fall from pristine simplicity and 
hardihood into the luxury and loose morality of the 
Macedonian times, and at no city were such vigorous 
and noble efforts made to return to the lost virtue. 
When Agis, the son of Eudamidas, ascended the throne 
in 244 B.C., he found not only luxury and avarice 
domiciled in Sparta, but the whole of the land, which 
Lycurgus had divided into equal lots, absorbed in the 
possession of one hundred wealthy families, and even 
in great part in the hands of women. To restore the 
sternness and simplicity of ancient manners, and to 
provide Sparta with new citizens and every citizen with 
a plot of land, was the conservative idea of this young 
statesman. Every one may read, in the inimitable narra- 
tive of Plutarch, how his noble enthusiasm cost him his 
life, and how his schemes, living on in the love and 
reverence of his wife, Agiatis, passed to her second 
husband, the new king, Cleomenes, and launched him 
on a desperate effort to overthrow the Ephors and to 
restore the habits and constitution established by 
Lycurgus. The part that women took in the promotion 
of and opposition to his plans, is characteristic of the 
times and of the city where women were ever held in 
more honour than elsewhere. 

No more painful occurrence can perplex and disturb 
the reader of history than when two honest and noble 
men, in the accomplishment of their unselfish plans, are 
so thrown into hostility one against the other, that one 
must fall, and one set of plans be ruined. So it was in 
this case. Achaia and Sparta both required consolida- 
tion by success. The Peloponnese was not wide enough 
for Cleomenes and Aratus. Either, left to himself, might 
have restored the liberties of Greece, though in different 

426 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

ways ; their rivalry made liberty more impossible than 
ever, Aratus, as the weaker in the field, stultified his 
whole life, which had been devoted to the securing of 
independence to the Achaeans, by calling in the King 
of Macedon to take his part against Cleomenes. On 
the field of Sellasia the glorious hopes of Cleomenes 
were wrecked, and the recently reformed Sparta was 
handed over to a succession of bloodthirsty tyrants, 
never again to emerge from obscurity. But to the 
Achaeans themselves the interference of Macedon was 
little less fatal. Henceforth a Macedonian garrison 
occupied Corinth, which had been one of the chief cities 
of the League; and King Antigonus Doson was the 
recognized arbiter in all disputes of the Peloponnesian 

In Northern Greece a strange contrast presented it- 
self. The historic races of the Athenians and Boeotians 
languished in peace, obscurity, and luxury. With them 
every day saw something added to the enjoyments and 
elegancies of life, and every day politics drifted more 
and more into the background. On the other hand, 
the rude semi-Greeks of the West, Aetolians, Acar- 
nanians, and Epirotes, to whose manhood the repulse of 
the Gauls was mainly due, came to the front and showed 
the bold spirit of Greeks divorced from the finer facul- 
ties of the race. The Acarnanians formed a league 
somewhat on the plan of the Achaean. But they were 
overshadowed by their neighbours the Aetolians, whose 
union was of a different character. It was the first time 
that there had been formed in Hellas a state framed in 
order to prey upon its neighbours. Among themselves, 
the Aetolians constituted the pure democracy peculiar- 
to men who live with arms in their hands. Yearly they 
met at the stronghold of Thermus, where was stowed 
the booty won in their piratical expeditions, in order to 

Chap. XV.] The StLccessors of Alexander. 427 

elect a general and decide on peace and war. But the 
contrast between these freebooters and the Achaeans is 
sufficiently marked by the circumstance that, when the 
latter admitted a city into their league, it entered with 
a full share of rights and had the same privileges as 
other cities. But when we hear of a city joining the 
Aetolian league, all that seems to be implied is that it 
paid an annual tribute in order to buy off the attacks 
of the Aetolians and to secure their protection against 
its neighbours. That such a city would send deputies 
to the Aetolian Assembly, or have a voice in the elec- 
tion of a general, there is no reason to believe. Epirus 
continued unchanged by the side of renovated Mace- 
donia, a kingdom of the old Homeric type, in which 
the power of the king was by no means unlimited, but 
subject to the control alike of the nobility and the 
prostates or president, whose name we find on inscrip- 
tions beside the king's. After the death of Pyrrhus and 
his son, the Epirotes, instead of falling into the hands of 
the Macedonian sovereign, formed a republic, democracy 
being far more suited to their habits and traditions than 
submission to any absolute ruler. 

Of the kingdoms founded by the generals of Alex- 
nder, the most compact and highly organised was Egypt. 
In Egypt Alexander was welcomed as a deliverer by a 
superstitious race ; he gave out that he was the son of 
the Egyptian deity Ammon. To the Egyptians it was 
an easy thing to add to the number of their gods, and 
to Alexander a distinguished place in the royal section 
of the Pantheon was at once accorded. Ptolemy, to 
whom good fortune had assigned Egypt as a satrapy on 
the death of his master, had no difficulty in taking his 
place in matters religious as well as political. He found 
a priest-ridden countrj', and, by closely binding the 
priesthood to himself, he gained the veneration of the 

428 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

people. He found settled laws and an elaborate ad- 
ministrative machinery ; he retained both in the main, 
though modifying each with the political talent for 
which he was so justly famed. The commerce, the 
wealth, and the population of Egypt advanced at a 
wonderful pace under his wise rule ; so that the armies, 
the ships, the riches, the literary and artistic treasures 
of Egypt became within half a century the wonder of 
the world. 

In the administration of Egypt Ptolemy adopted and 
utilized that division into districts, or nomes, which had 
been in use from the earliest times. But the general 
government of the individual nomes became more mili- 
tary in character, while at the same time the various 
branches of the civil government were placed in the 
hands of separate officials. At the head of every nome 
was a Macedonian strategus, or general, assisted by an 
administrative officer, called an epistates, and a secretary. 
In every nome there were agoranomi, Hellenic function- 
aries, entrusted with the inspection of markets, the regu- 
lation of trade, and the settlement of the disputes between 
merchants. Graver causes were tried by commissions of 
three judges, who passed in circuit from city to city ; or 
they were carried to Alexandria for decision.. Villages 
and sub-districts had each their group of officers, and 
the nomes themselves were gathered into larger pro- 
vinces, under the headship of a provincial governor. 

At the head of the whole bureaucracy stood the King, 
whose decree was law throughout the length and breadth 
of the land, and around whom was a military court, 
with innumerable grades of honour and distinction. To 
be enrolled in the bodyguard, to gain a right to the 
title of the King's Friend or the King's Cousin, was 
the ambition of Greek mercenaries and native Egyp- 
tians ; and as these titles and honours were to a great 

Chap. XV.] The Successors of A lexander. 429 

extent hereditary in Egypt, they occupied the same 
relative position as the old German titles of office. But 
of course, in a land where a word of the sovereign could 
raise to honour or condemn to disgrace, any indepen- 
dent order of aristocracy was out of the question. All 
the higher honours, both about the person of the 
monarch and in the provinces, were in the hands of 
Macedonians and Greeks, the leaders of the hired troops 
who represented the physical force of the Egyptian 
kingdom. Any restraint which existed on the arbitrary 
power of the king came from them. On the demise of 
a king, they appointed his successor out of the princes 
of the Ptolemaic race, and, when a king became dis- 
tasteful to them, they possessed means for depriving 
him of the diadem. The native Egyptians seem to 
have accepted calmly a position of inferiority, out of 
which a man here and there rose by talent or fortune. 
They had long been unused to independence, and the 
respect paid to their laws and religion by their new 
masters made them disposed cheerfully to submit to 
their supremacy and protection. Only the great ports 
of Alexandria and Naucratis, with Ptolemais, a city 
built in Upper Egypt in order to dominate Thebes,— 
all three of which cities had in the main a Greek 
population, — enjoyed to a large extent the right of 
self-government, and formed small imperia in imperio. 

Both in political skill and in love of letters, the 
Kings of Pergamus were not inferior to the Ptolemies. 
Their territory was small ; yet one of them. Attains I., 
was able to inflict a crushing defeat on the Gauls, and 
afterwards to use them as mercenaries against his neigh- 
bours. It was the traditional policy of the race to 
stand beside Rome in her wars in the East ; a course 
of conduct which brought a rich reward. All the princes 
of this dynasty were literary. Attalus I. composed a 

430 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

treatise on botany; Eumenes II. was noted as a muni- 
ficent patron of authors ; Attalus II. corresponded with 
the philosopher Polemo ; and, when Mummius sacked 
Corinth, he did his best to save from destruction the 
masterpieces of art of which that city was full. The 
library of Pergamus contained 200,000 volumes when 
Antony presented it to Cleopatra ; and the parchment 
of Pergamus has played a greater part even than the 
papyrus of Egypt in preserving for us copies of ancient 
works. Unlike the later Ptolemies, the Kings of Per- 
gamus possessed civic and domestic virtues. They cared 
little for regal state, and liked to appear to their people 
as only the leading citizens. In a dissolute age it is 
remarkable to find the two sons of Attalus I. erecting 
a temple at Cyzicus, not to their mistresses but to their 
mother Apollonis, who was a native of the city. 

In most respects the vast and ill-compacted empire 
of the Seleucidae formed a marked contrast to the 
highly organized kingdom of Egypt. Seleucus and his 
successors never succeeded, like the Ptolemies, in con- 
ciliating the national and religious prejudices of the 
races over which they ruled. The policy of Alexander, 
who had determined to make one race of Greeks and 
Persians, died with him. The Kings of Syria did not 
adopt like him the Persian dress, nor marry like him 
Asiatic wives. We trace in such fragments of their 
history as have come down to us strong indications of 
hostility between them and the creeds of the subject- 
races. On the occasion of the foundation by Seleucus 
of the city of Seleucia on the Tigris, the Magi tried to 
cheat the King into choosing an unpropitious site. To 
the Persian worshippers of Ormazd the image-worship 
of the Greeks seemed a degrading superstition. An- 
tiochus IV. made a vigorous endeavour to introduce the 
worship of Zeus Olympius in the cities of his dominion, 

Chap. XV.] The Sjiccessors of Alexander. 431 

even in the temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem. So, while 
in Egypt the population was quiescent, in the Syrian 
Empire we have a long series of national revolts under 
patriotic leaders, beginning with the secession of the 
Persians in Iran and Media, and ending with the suc- 
cessful struggle of the Jewish Maccabees for inde- 

In fact in all Asia, save Asia Minor and Syria, the 
Hellenistic princes had very little hold on the peoples 
of the country except that arising from fear. What then 
were the means by which they so long retained their 
sway in the midst of a hostile population ? ' The answer 
to this important question contains the secret of the 
history of Asia during the three centuries before the 
Christian era. 

In the first place, the Greek kings in Asia could 
always secure the services of Greek and Macedonian 
mercenaries. At the time of Alexander's expedition 
against the Persian Empire there were stored in all the 
great cities, Susa, Ecbatana, Babylon, and the rest, 
enormous treasures of gold and silver. These were the 
hoarded results of the Persian exactions, and prodigal 
as Alexander was in his expenditure, he could not quite 
exhaust the vast supply, but left a proportion for his 
successors. As the shedding of honey draws together 
a cloud of flies, so the gradual melting of the mountain 
of Persian gold drew over into Asia a constant stream 
of soldiers of fortune. These men, who came chiefly 
from Crete, Arcadia, Macedon, and Thrace, were unscru- 
pulous indeed, but under good generals they made fair 
soldiers, and the descendants of Seleucus knew how to 
attach them to their service. We have a racy picture 
of one of these gentry in the Pyrgopolinices of Plautus, 
and no doubt the figure was familiar enough to the new 
Attic comedy. 

432 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

But a mere mercenary army is not in itself sufficient 
to bind together a civilized State. It is well shown by 
Droysen that the main source of Greek power through- 
out Asia was in the cities founded everywhere in extra- 
ordinary numbers by Alexander and his successors. From 
the earliest days of Hellas the city had been a self-com- 
plete unit, organized and independent. The Greek cities 
of Asia Minor, even when under the sway of the Persian 
kings they had paid tribute and admitted a garrison, 
yet possessed in many respects their autonomy, appointed 
their own magistrates, and regulated their own commerce. 
Hence it would appear that the great Alexander conceived 
the idea of binding to himself the provinces which he 
overran by building a chain of cities across them, cities 
with mixed population, but dominated by a Greek faction, 
and trained to the enjoyment of Hellenic privilege. With 
Alexander, to conceive an idea and to put it into execu- 
tion was the same thing. He found the people of several 
districts living scattered in villages ; he drew them to- 
gether into cities, at the head of which he placed a few 
of his followers to organize. The result was a complete 
change in the manners of such people. From scattered 
and ignorant cultivators they became artisans or mer- 
chants, and remained for centuries attached to the Greek 
rule, which had so enlarged their ideas and improved 
their position. At the mouth of the Nile, near the shores 
of the Caspian, along the course of the Oxus, at the 
foot of the Paropamisus, on the banks of the Indus, 
wherever the arms of Alexander were victorious and the 
country seemed fertile, the great conqueror halted his 
army for a brief period, or detached a body of troops, 
and in a few weeks the walls of a city were rising to 
dominate the district. To fill those walls he left a few 
veterans weary of fighting and marching, and some of 
the merchants and artisans who followed his march in 

Chap. XV.] The Successors of Alexander. 433 

crowds, and then summoned the inhabitants of the neigh- 
bourhood to complete the number of citizens. > The 
Seleucid and other Greek princes continued the practice. 
So it was not long before the cities of Alexander and 
his generals absorbed the trade of Asia, and every one 
of them was a centre whence the Greek language, Greek 
ideas, and Greek religion spread over the East. We 
need only mention among them Alexandria, Antioch, 
Seleucia, Nicaea, Kandahar, to remind the reader how 
many of the great cities of the world then came into 

We may divide these cities into groups, according to 
their position, and will speak first of the fate of those 
founded in the far East. In the remote districts to the 
north of Cabul it must be confessed that the fruits of 
Alexander's conquests were not lasting. No sooner was 
the King dead, than the Macedonians settled on the 
Oxus and Jaxartes, to the number of 20,000 infantry 
and 3000 cavalry, smitten with a sudden despair at the 
thought of their distance from home, left their cities, 
and in full battle array took the road for Europe. The 
generals at Babylon could resist and slaughter them, 
but could not send them back across the Oxus, and by 
their desertion the barrier erected to keep out the bar- 
barous nomads of Turkistan was most fatally weakened. 
A century later one of those great migrations of nations 
which have so often changed the face of Asia set in. 
Relieved from the pressure of Persian power on the 
south, the barbarous nations of Sacae or Scythians on 
the borders of China began to migrate in masses towards 
"the Oxus and Bactria. They had, no doubt, to make 
their way by hard fighting ; but the iiood rolled on 
slowly and irresistibly, and in considerably less than 
two centuries after Alexander's death it had submerged 
the plains of Bactria and Sogdiana ; and the semi-Greek 

2 F 

434 iWa/ Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

cities to the north of the Paropamisus or Indian Caucasus 
were either destroyed or left cut off from the world to 
starve slowly and become barbarous. 

The Macedonians and Greeks were driven into the 
great natural stronghold which fortune and the policy 
of Alexander had left them in that region. This is the 
Cabul valley, where for centuries a Hellenistic civilization 
maintained itself When the Macedonian army first 
entered that region and approached the city of Nysa, in 
the neighbourhood of Jellalabad, they at once founds 
themselves in a country resembling their own. Here 
grew the ivy and the vine ; here the people drank wine 
freely, and claimed to be descended from the army of 
Bacchus, the conqueror of India, who on his return had 
founded their city. Believing, like all his contemporaries, 
that the Indian expeditions of Bacchus and of Heracles 
were historical fact, Alexander received the people of 
Nysa with great favour, and granted them autonomy. 
It is probable that in this district the common worship 
of Bacchus brought about a certain fusion between Greek 
and barbarian, and this as well as the natural strength 
of the country may have helped the Greeks to make a 
stand. But after a while even this stronghold was 
stormed, and the unhappy Greeks were driven first into 
the Panjab and then crushed between the advancing 
hordes of Scythia and the Indian kingdom of Magadha ; 
and in the first century of our era Scythian chiefs ruled 
from Bactria to the mouth of the Indus, 

It is sometimes said that the conquests of Alexander 
had no influence on Indian civilization ; but the student 
of the antiquities of the Panjab knows better. The 
Scythians and the native dynasties of North India were 
long enough in contact with the Greeks to learn their 
language, their religion, and their art. The corns- of the 
Gupta kings of Magadha bear types of Greek origin. 

Chap. XV.] The Successors of Alexander. 435 

those of the Sah kings of Guzerat bear Greek inscrip- 
tions, those of the wealthy Saka kings of Cabul present 
to us not only Greek legends, but figures of Greek deities, 
of Artemis, Heracles, and Pallas, and that certainly as 
late as the second century of our era. Buddhist figures, 
whether from the topes of Afghanistan, or even from 
China, show to any one accustomed to Greek art indu- 
bitable traces of a close affinity with it. And it is in 
the last degree improbable that peoples, which borrowed 
the style of their money and their religious art from 
the Greeks, should have borrowed nothing else. 

The fate of the Hellenistic cities in those more western 
regions of Asia which fell under the dominion of the 
Parthians was less harsh. The Parthians, who lived on 
horseback, and did not willingly venture within the walls 
of a city, found it wise to tolerate them, and, in return 
probably for a fixed tribute, allowed them autonomy and 
protected their trade. The Parthian king even assumed 
the title Philhellen, Greek was his court language, and 
he beguiled his leisure by witnessing Greek plays and 
conversing with Greek travellers. The usual type of the 
Parthian coins represents a Greek city offering a wreath 
to the king ; their legend is Greek, and they are dated 
according to the Greek era of Syria. In some cases, 
when there was war between Parthia and the Seleucid 
kings of Syria, the Hellenistic cities of Parthia seem to 
have sided with the latter power, and taken the Syrian 
troops into friendly winter-quarters. How completely 
independent of the central power the greater cities were 
may be judged from the circumstance that in the popu- 
lous city of Seleucia on the Tigris there were internal 
civil wars between the Greek, Jewish, and Syrian factions 
without any interference on the part of the Parthians. 

Even the cities of Syria and Asia Minor, although 
under the rule of kings of Macedonian race, were pro- 

2 F 2 

436 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

bably to a great extent self-governing. They had their 
senate and popular assembly, their magistrates elected by 
themselves, their alliances, monetary and commercial, with 
one another, and their decrees, which in most matters of 
internal police, religious worship, and commerce, had the 
force of law. The king exacted a revenue from them, and 
kept in them a garrison, whose chief must have had 
criminal jurisdiction, and power of life and death, but it 
is improbable that he interfered with their internal ar- 
rangements, the laws with regard to property, or the 
market regulations. Freedom from both taxes and gar- 
risons was gradually conferred on most of the great 
cities of Asia Minor and Syria by one or another of 
their rulers during the third and second centuries before 
our era. An extraordinary size and architectural splen- 
dour was attained by many of them. In some districts, 
such as Cyrrhestica in Northern Syria, they were so 
thickly scattered that the land became thoroughly Hel- 
lenized, and barbaric manners and barbaric language died 
out. Thus over all western Asia, including even 
countries which like Cappadocia retained their own 
kings, a mesh of Hellenistic and half-autonomous cities 
was spread, which with every generation became stronger, 
binding the land to civilization and law, and bringing in 
that state of extraordinary wealth and prosperity which we 
find at the time of the Christian era. 

As by hard fighting the Greeks had mastered the 
treasures of Persia and Babylon, so by commercial en- 
terprise they appropriated the resources of Tyre and 
Sidon. Those cities indeed survived their capture by 
Alexander, living on as Hellenistic cities, and even re- 
covered prosperity, but they had lost their high rank for' 
ever. Hitherto they had been the great intermediaries 
between East and West, and the trade of Egypt, Persia, 
and India had flowed through their markets. But with 

Chap. XV.] The Successors of Alexander. i;^"] 

the building of Alexandria near the mouth of the Nile 
a new era began. Henceforth only part of the trade 
of India passed by the caravan routes to the coast of 
Phoenicia. Much of it came direct to the shore of the 
Red Sea. Harpalus discovered or rediscovered the course 
of the monsoons, and at the proper seasons Arabian 
fleets went to and fro between the Malabar coast and 
the harbours sedulously constructed by the Ptolemies on 
the Red Sea, whence the wares passed overland to the 
basin of the Nile. India sent ivory, silk, precious stones, 
rice, scented woods ; and received in return gold and 
silver as well as the products of Egypt. To our own 
days gold coins of the early Roman emperors are not 
unfrequently found in India. The trade which passed 
up the courses of the Euphrates and the Tigris re- 
ceived a great impetus from the foundation, in the 
neighbourhood of Babylon, of the immense Greek 
trading city of Seleucia, and near the Syrian coast of 
Antioch with its seaport, also called Seleucia. Between 
the two Seleucias there must have been constant inter- 
course. Along all the great caravan routes eastward from 
the Mediterranean arose flourishing Greek cities, a number 
of which still survive, and would still flourish under a just 
government. Even the Oxus was in those days a high- 
way of commerce, floating the productions of Bactria into 
the Caspian Sea. The first Antiochus is said to have 
projected a canal which should join the Caspian Sea 
with the Euxine, and thus secure a water-highway from 
the Mediterranean into Upper Asia. This plan was un- 
fortunately never realized, but the importance of Sinope 
shows how extensive a trade passed towards the Caspian 
Sea from the west by land. If the growth of trade be 
an indication of advancing civilization, then civilization 
must have advanced very rapidly in the century which 
followed Alexander's death. 

438 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

The great intermediary between Europe and Asia was 
the island of Rhodes. About 408 B.C. the cities of Rhodes 
combined to build a new capital to their island, which 
they called Rhodus. Almost immediately the young city 
started on a splendid commercial career, the period of her 
rise closely corresponding with that of the downfall of 
Athens. Her commercial navy was soon known in every 
port of the Mediterranean, and her ships of war assisted 
Alexander in the conquest of Tyre. Then came the 
celebrated siege of the city by Demetrius Poliorcetes, 
a siege full of spirit and chivalric feelings on both sides. 
When Demetrius became convinced that he could not 
take the city, he made a treaty of alliance with the 
Rhodians, and cemented it by presenting to them the 
engines of war with which he had been lately battering 
their walls, to the value of three hundred talents. Truly 
Rhodes was the spoilt child of the old age of Hellas, for 
when fifty years later the city was shaken and damaged 
by an earthquake, the kings of Egypt, Syria, and even 
Syracuse vied with the free Greek cities of Asia in pre- 
senting ships, money, and building materials, and in ac- 
cording to the Rhodian ships immunity from tolls in 
their ports. 

So Rhodes grew great, not through her prosperity 
alone, but also through her calamities. And it cannot 
be said that her unparalleled good fortune was wholly 
unmerited. In spite of their great wealth and over- 
flowing commerce, the people of the island retained 
something of the old Dorian honesty and simplicity. 
Their government was a mixture of one of the wisest 
forms, a commercial aristocracy, and the freest, a demo- 
cracy ; for though all votes had to be passed in popular 
assembly, yet this assembly could only discuss points 
brought before it by the senate. Rhodian commercial 
law was adopted by the Romans on account of its jus- 

Chap. XV.] The Successors of A lexander. 439 

tice, and remains to this day the foundation of the Law 
of Nations. Twice did the Rhodians support in arms 
the freedom of Greek commerce, standing forth as cham- 
pions on behalf of weaker powers j once when they put 
down the pirates who had already begun to swarm in 
the Eastern Mediterranean, and once when they com- 
pelled Byzantium to give up the power she had assumed 
of levying a tax on all the Greek vessels that passed the 
Golden Horn on their way to and from the Black Sea. 

But Rhodes, like the Achaean League and every pro- 
mising institution of later Greece, was destined to decay 
under the withering shadow of Roman jealousy. True 
that the Rhodians were firm allies of Rome, and vigor- 
ously hostile to her enemies in Macedon and Asia. Yet 
the power and wealth of the island remained, and these 
were in themselves a sufficient cause for the enmity of a 
state which would not endure the faintest shadow of a 
rival. The Romans in 167 B.C. conceded the island of 
Delos to Athens, and made it a free port under their 
special protection. From that day Rhodes declined, and 
De_los became the emporium of Greece. One great staple 
of Delian trade was slaves, of whom we are told that 
sometimes ten thousand were landed in the morning and 
sold before evening. The Syrians and other Jews of 
antiquity flocked to Delos, and Rhodes was deserted. 
But even then the island remained the home of art and 
of philosophy. The group of Laocoon exists to our day 
to testify to the excellence of Rhodian sculpture, and 
Julius Caesar went to Rhodus to attend the lectures of 
Molo at the University. 

Other cities which grew in commerce and power in the 
times of the successors of Alexander, besides the new 
foundations and Rhodus, were some of those on the 
Black Sea, notably the Pontic Heraclea, Sinope, and 
Panticapaeum. The trade of the Euxine had been almost 

440 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

monopolized hitherto, first by Miletus, and, after the fall 
of Miletus, by Athens. Now it was open to many states. 
The great wheat-harvests of the Crimea, and the abundant 
fish of the Borysthenes, with the cattle and hides supplied 
by the Scythians, and timber from the vast forests of 
Thrace, made the export trade which flowed through the 
Bosphorus of great value. We have already mentioned 
how the people of Byzantium sought to levy a toll on the 
commerce of the Euxine, and how their attempt was 
frustrated by the Rhodians. The passage of the Bos- 
phorus remained free, and as a consequence the Greek 
cities of the Euxine remained flourishing and powerful 
in the face of surrounding Hellenistic potentates and 
barbarous tribes of Scythians until the time of Mithri- 
dates the Great. 

Our limited space now compels us to turn from the 
external and political aspects of the world of Hellenism 
to its internal aspects ; to the religion and manners of 
the later Greeks, and to the changes which these under- 
went in the centuries which followed Alexander's expe- 
dition. The religion of the Greeks had never claimed 
a universal character ; nor had they attempted to make 
proselytes among other nations. As Greeks ' they wor- 
shipped Zeus and Pallas and Apollo, but it seemed to 
them perfectly natural that other nations should have 
deities of their own, that the Egyptians should venerate 
Osiris and the Thracians Bendis. In their ruder days 
they were ready to slay the worshippers of strange 
deities, because the very fact of that worship would prove 
that they were aliens ; but they would never have consented 
to admit strangers to a share in their own sacrifices. The 
Pantheon of the Greeks was a national institution, and 
as the Greeks forced their way to a prominent place 
among the nations, so their deities became more powerful 
and more widely worshipped. But they would never 

Chap. XV.] The Successors of Alexander. 441 

deign to receive the sacrifice of a barbarian, or to listen 
to his prayer. Even the clans and the cities of Greece 
had all their own guardian deities, who were thoroughly 
identified with the places they protected, and hostile to 
all strangers and enemies. Indeed to the common people 
the true object of their worship was the local or civic 
deity, as embodied in some well-known statue or picture, 
and the deities of the Olympic circle were little more 
than abstractions. The object which the uncultivated 
people of Phigaleia really venerated was the black De- 
meter with the horse's head ; and the mob of Ephesus 
implicitly trusted for the defence of their persons and 
their city to the barbarous many-breasted figure which 
stood in their great temple. The more cultivated classes 
of course saw the deity behind the statue, and for them 
the Pantheon which Homer and Hesiod had formed was 
a national institution, but even they would not see what 
barbarians had to do with it. 

In the course of the Peloponnesian War Greek religion 
began to lose its hold on the Greeks. This was partly 
the work of the sophists and philosophers, who sought 
more lofty and moral views of Deity than were furnished 
by the tales of popular mythology. Still more it re- 
sulted from growing materialism among the people, who 
saw more and more of their immediate and physical 
needs, and less and less of the underlying spiritual ele- 
ments in Hfe. But though philosophy and materialism 
had made the religion of Hellas paler and feebler, they 
had not altered its nature or expanded it. It still re- 
mained essentially national, almost tribal. When, there- 
fore, Greeks and Macedonians suddenly found themselves 
masters of the nations of the East, and in close contact 
with a hundred forms of religion, an extraordinary and 
rapid change took place in their religious ideas. 

In religion, as in other matters, Egypt set to the world 

442 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

an example of prompt fusion of the ideas of Greeks 
and natives. To Ptolemy Soter, when the new city of 
Alexandria was just rising, there appeared in a vision a 
divine form, which bade the king fetch the image of his 
divinity from Pontus. The Egyptian priests could not 
interpret the dream, but the Eumolpid priest, Timotheus 
of Eleusis, who was then at Alexandria, after hearing 
the king's description of his visitant, declared him to be 
a half-Greek deity worshipped at the city of Sinope 
under the name of Sarapis. An embassy was de- 
spatched to Delphi, and the oracle of Apollo com- 
manded that they should act upon the vision. With great 
pomp, and of course in the midst of supernatural mani- 
festations, the image of Sarapis was solemnly conducted 
from Sinope to Alexandria. Who or what Sarapis was 
originally has been much disputed ; all that is certain 
is that he was in a special sense the deity of the 
heavens above and of the future life. The Egyptians at 
once saw in him a form of their national deity Osiris, 
and, as he had left behind at Sinope the goddess who 
was there his consort, they associated Isis with his wor- 
ship. The Greeks identified the new god sometimes 
with Zeus and sometimes with Hades or Pluto. In the 
splendid temple which was erected to receive the statue 
from Sinope, both nationalities could meet in a common 
worship. It is known that Alexander the Great in his 
last illness had sent to inquire at the temple of Sarapis 
as to his chances of recovery, and it may be suspected 
that the dream of Ptolemy, who was a real statesman, 
was a politic invention. If so, no imposture was ever 
more successful. Sarapis perfectly represented the new 
Egypt, and with his Egyptian consort he received as a 
marriage-portion all the arcana of the sacred lore. Greek 
philosophy stepped in to adapt the new religion to the 
tastes of the educated classes. The cultus of Sarapis 

Chap. XV.] Tlte Successors of Alexander. 443 

and Isis spread rapidly over Egypt, and thence through 
Asia Minor and Greece. 

In fact that cultus supplied one of the great needs of 
the Hellenistic world. The decay of civic life and the 
disruption of family ties threw at this time greater stress 
on the personal and individual ; Greek men for the first 
time began to feel the need of a personal religion. 
Hitherto processions and sacrifices had belonged to the 
community, and had been the expression of its common 
life ; now they were burdened with personal wants and 
prayers. And the more disorganised the old framework 
of society became, the more stress did hope and imagina- 
tion lay upon the future life. But the religion of the 
Egyptians had always been much occupied with the 
next world, and in its new form it offered to all who 
accepted the guardianship and guidance of Sarapis and 
his consort a safe path amid the perils which attended 
on death and a happy future in the land of spirits. It 
also appealed to men and women one by one, drawing 
its votaries from the midst of cities and of famihes. No 
doubt it was mixed with much that was merely cere- 
monious and much that was superstitious, yet history 
justifies us in considering it as a forerunner of Chris- 
tianity, for which it prepared the way, and to which at 
a later time it became so formidable a rival. The his- 
tory of art quite confirms this view. The face of the 
Hellenic Zeus becomes more spiritual, mild, and mys- 
terious in that of Sarapis. 

With regard to the religions of other Eastern countries 
we have less definite information than in the case of 
Egypt. But it would appear that other ancient systems 
of belief underwent a change, and appeared in a new 
form under the influence of Hellenism. The Phrygian 
races in Asia Minor had long worshipped Cybele, a 
deity of the moon and of the rude powers of nature. 

444 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

Her worship had spread among the Greeks, who had 
identified her with the Rhea of their own mythology. 
That worship suited the new times. It offered to the 
vulgar, gay shows and imposing ceremonies, to the ex- 
citable enthusiastic rites in which religious and sensuous 
excitement were strangely blended, while the sceptic 
could imagine that in adoring the mother of the gods 
he was only worshipping the mysterious powers of 
Nature. The cult spread rapidly through the Greek 
world, and during the Hannibalic wars the Romans sent 
for the statue of Cybele from her temple at Pessinus, in 
Phrygia, and made her a home in the Eternal City. Of 
a similar character to the worship of Cybele was that of 
Mithras, a deity brought into prominence by the contact 
of the primitive sun-worship of the Persians with Hel- 
lenistic influence. In Syria Mithras, and in Asia Minor 
Cybele, offered a common worship to Greek and bar- 
barian, and largely stimulated the fusion of races. 

We have already mentioned that the Greek invaders 
found in the Cabul valley traditions of heroic conquerors, 
whom they at once identified with the Bacchus and 
Heracles of their own mythology. The people of the 
place at once accepted an identification which placed 
them, as descended from the followers of Bacchus, on ^ 
footing of cousinship with the Greeks. These two 
heroes, together with Zeus and Pallas, the special 
guardian deities of Alexander, were singled out for 
special devotion by the Greeks of the far East, and 
adopted by the nations round them. Even the Parthians 
and the barbarous Sacae who destroyed eventually 
the Greek cities of India incorporated these deities in 
their very eclectic Pantheons. On gold coins of the 
Scythic kings of the Panjab we find the names and the 
figures of Heracles and Sarapis beside those of Varuna 
and Siva, of Mithras and of Buddha. The worship of 

Chap. XV.] The Successors of A lexander. 445 

Dionysus in particular, being fitted by its enthusiastic 
character, and the orgies which adhered to it from its 
Thracian origin, to rival the religion of Cybele herself, 
spread rapidly among the native races of Asia, and then 
returned in altered and Asiatic shape to Greece and the 
West. The Dionysiac festivals passed into Italy, and 
appeared to the Romans so fatal to morality and de- 
cency that the senate, in 186 B.C., passed a stringent 
decree forbidding them, and they were put down, not 
without much bloodshed. 

In the cities newly founded by the successors of Alex- 
ander these new deities found abundant welcome and 
crowds of votaries. But not to the exclusion of the 
older Greek gods. The troops settled in a particular 
city usually came from the same town or district in 
Greece or Macedon. They often gave to their new 
home the name of the old, whence names such as 
Edessa, Cyrrhus, and Chalcis were not rare in Syria 
and Asia Minor. And they often transplanted with 
them the guardian deity of their ancestral city,- Zeus or 
Apollo or Artemis, who became their protector and 
friend amid their new surroundings. The festal pro- 
cessions and ceremonies migrated with the deity. In 
particular, we know, from the testimony of coins and 
inscriptions, that in a large number of the cities of the 
Hellenistic Asiatics games resembling the Pythia and 
Nemea of Hellas were held at stated intervals, and 
occupied a prominent place in the energies of the 
people. Whether the competitors had to establish some 
claim to Hellenic parentage we know not, but in any 
case the crowds of spectators must have been mixed ; 
and before all were held up the ideals of Greek athletic 
training and physical beauty. To the effeminate Asiatics 
there must have come on such occasions quite a revela- 
tion of manliness and simplicity. 

446 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

Into Greece proper, in return for her population which 
flowed out, there flowed in a crowd of foreign deities. 
Isis was especially welcomed at Athens, where she found 
many votaries. In every cult the more mysterious ele- 
ments were made more of, and the brighter and more 
materialistic side passed by. Old statues which had 
fallen somewhat into contempt in the days of Pheidias 
and Praxiteles were restored to their places and received 
extreme veneration, not as beautiful, but as old and 
strange. On the coins of the previous period the re- 
presentations of deities had been always the best that 
the die-cutter could frame, taking as his models the 
finest contemporary sculpture ; but henceforth we often 
find on them strange, uncouth figures, remnants of a 
period of struggling early art, like the Apollo at Amy- 
clae, or the Hera of Samos. 

At the same time the recognized civic cults, with their 
ancient temples, their hereditary orders of priesthood, 
their orthodox sacrifices and processions, grew more and 
more distasteful to the many, and the desire for some- 
thing more exciting spread further and further. There 
had been, even before the Macedonian age, among the 
Greeks societies called erani or thiasi, voluntary associa- 
tions established by the concert of individuals for the 
worship of foreign deities. These dissenting sects, if we 
may so term them, had a fund, supplied by the contribu- 
tions of the members. They erected their own shrines, 
and elected their own priests and priestesses. The state 
looked with dislike and contempt on these societies, and 
their usual members were slaves and women. Under 
their auspices Sabazius and Cybele had become already 
domiciled at Athens. But after the time of Alexander 
the erani came forth from their lurking-places, and were 
an important element in Greek society. In the open 
streets might be seen processions in honour of the 

Chap. XV.] Tke Successors of Alexander. 447 

deities of Asia and Egypt, Atys and Mithras and An- 
ubis, and the respectable burghers frequently found to 
their horror that their trusted slaves, nay, their wives 
and daughters, were Constant attendants at the secret 
rites which characterised the meetings of the erani. We 
are told that those rites were disgraced with debauchery 
and the vilest excesses ; it may probably have been so, 
but we must remember that similar tales were told of 
the sacred meetings of the early Christians. Certainly 
much charlatanry and imposture hid under the mask of 
the foreign religions. Their priests boldly claimed a 
knowledge of the future. Under the influence of a 
frantic religious excitement, into which they worked 
themselves in the nominal worship of their deity, they 
uttered broken sentences in reply to the questions of 
their [votaries, sentences which these latter accepted as 
the oracles of supernatural knowledge. And they pro- 
fessed to cure the diseases of those who applied to them 
by throwing them into a similar state of frenzy. 

Those elements in the recognized Greek religions 
which lent themselves to such a transformation became 
more and more transfigured into the likeness of the 
Asiatic enthusiasms. The mysteries of Eleusis lost 
their sobriety ; mysterious cults like that of Tropho- 
nius attracted increasing crowds, and the temples of 
Asclepius were filled with votaries hoping for the 
personal appearance and inspiration of the healing 

We need say little or nothing of the history of philo- 
sophy during the Hellenistic period, because this is a 
subject which has not been neglected like most of the 
phases of later Greek life. Mr. Grote remarks that, at 
the point where he closes his work, philosophy alone 
of all the productions of Greek activity has life in it 
and a career before it. All historians of philosophy 

448 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

spare a few pages to the successors of Plato and Aris- 
totle, though the understanding of them is somewhat 
marred by the incomplete idea usually possessed of 
their surroundings. The fact is that the same change 
came over philosophy at this period as came over re- 
ligion and morality, a change which may be expressed 
in its most general form when we say that the in- 
dividual and moral point of view is substituted for the 
civic. With Plato and Aristotle a man is first a citizen 
and then an individual ; with their successors he is a 
human being first, and a citizen only in the second place. 
His relation to his city is eclipsed by his relations to 
pleasure, to virtue, and to the order of the universe. 

The most complete sceptic of antiquity, Pyrrho, is 
said to have travelled to India in the train of Alex- 
ander, and to have conversed with the Indian Gymno- 
sophists. The story is characteristic. On the impulsive 
nature of a Greek, the reserve and self-containment of 
the Brahmin would produce a great effect, and the 
entire newness of the ideas held by him as to truth and 
falsehood, and even as to right and wrong, might easily 
lead an admirer, if not to adopt these ideas, at least 
to lose all belief in his own. Thousands of Greeks, 
when they found the best and noblest of the Asiatics 
differing from their own traditional views of morality, - 
must have hastily leapt to the conclusion that morality 
is a matter of pure convention ; that right and wrong 
vary in various countries, and exist in the fancies of 
men rather than in the relations of things. There is 
but a step from the belief that all religions are true 
to the belief that all religions are false, and in philo- 
sophy as in religion, the experience of mankind may 
lead either to large-minded toleration or to complete 

In the intellectual life of Athens there was still left 

Chap. XV.] The Successors of A lexander. 449 

v'itality enough to formulate the two most complete ex- 
pressions of the ethical ideas of the times, the doctrines 
of the Stoics and the Epicureans, towards one or the 
other of which all educated minds from that day to 
this have been drawn. No doubt our knowledge of 
these doctrines, being largely drawn from the Latin 
writers and their Greek contemporaries, is somewhat 
coloured and unjust. With the Romans a system of philo- 
sophy was considered mainly in its bearing upon conduct, 
whence the ethical elements in Stoicism and Epicu- 
reanism have been by their Roman adherents so thrust 
into the foreground, that we have almost lost sight of 
the intellectual elements, which can have had little less 
importance in the eyes of the Greeks. Notwithstanding, 
the rise of the two philosophies must be held to mark 
a new era in the history of thought, an era when the 
importance of conduct was for the first time recognized 
by the Greeks. 

It is often observed that the ancient Greeks were 
more modern than our own ancestors of the Middle 
Ages. But it is less generally recognized how far more 
modern than the Greeks of Pericles were the Greeks 
of Aratus. In very many respects the age of Hellenism 
and our own age present remarkable similarity. In 
both there appears a sudden increase in the power over 
material nature, arising alike from the greater accessi- 
bility of all parts of the world and from the rapid 
development of the sciences which act upon the physi- 
cal forces of the world. In both this spread of science 
and power acts upon religion with a dissolving and, if 
we may so speak, centrifugal force, driving some men 
to take refuge in the most conservative forms of faith, 
some to fly to new creeds and superstitions, some to 
drift into unmeasured scepticism. In both the facility 
of moving from place to place, and finding a distant 

2 G 

4SO New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

home, tends to dissolve the closeness of civic and family- 
life, and to make the individual rather than the family 
or the city the unit of social life. And in the family 
relations, in the character of individuals, in the state 
of morality, in the condition of art, we find at both 
periods similar results from the similar causes we have 

It is well known how brilliant an assembly of scientific 
and learned men the first two Ptolemies assembled at 
Alexandria. At the Museum Euclid was professor of 
mathematics ; Hipparchus and Eratosthenes made won- 
derful progress in the science of astronomy ; Herophilus 
and Erasistratus taught medicine and anatomy. The 
king was ready to welcome any traveller who had infor- 
mation to give, and his emissaries penetrated India and 
Ethiopia in eager search for new facts or commercial 
openings. Astronomers, geographers, grammarians, his- 
torians, flocked to the Egyptian court, and their mutual 
friction produced in scientific matters a sharp and critical 
spirit such as science loves. Nor were there lacking 
engineers eager to turn the amassed knowledge to 
account. It is true that much of their ingenuity was 
employed for purposes of scientific destruction, as in 
the case of the wonderful engines which Demetrius 
Poliorcetes employed in vain against the Rhodians, and 
of the enormous war-galleys which the Kings of Egypt 
constructed. Nevertheless much progress was made in 
more peaceful arts. Some of the inventions of Archi- 
medes were of a character to make toil easier all over 
the world. In the construction of cities a vast improve- 
ment took place : wide and paved streets, colonnades, 
parks, convenient agoras, took the place of the fortuitous 
collections of hovels which had previously been called 
cities. Great roads, artificial havens, and canals made 
communication easier between town and town, and agri- 

Chap. XV.] Tlie Successors of Alexander'. 451 

culture received an impulse from the importation of new 
seeds from the East. 

The sudden wealth of the Greeks and the sudden 
increase in their power over material nature could not 
but very much increase the ease and luxury of their 
lives. The grandees began to erect for themselves 
splendid palaces filled with all the richest produce of 
East and West, Etruscan bronzes and Attic pottery, 
Babylonian carpets and Coan curtains. The best artists 
painted their walls ; their courts were adorned with the 
statues of great sculptors ; their gold and silver vessels 
were masterpieces of toreutic art. Soft couches and 
clothes of most delicate fabric took the place of the 
simple coverlets and coarse cloaks of the heroes of 
Marathon. The new Greeks ever went about smelling 
of sweet unguents, and the use of paint for the face and 
false hair was not confined to the female sex. The 
poorer citizens followed the example of luxury as best 
they might, the bounds being set by their poverty and 
not their will. In many parts of Greece comfortable 
inns arose at intervals on the chief routes for the accom- 
modation of travellers, who were not now contented with 
a roof and some straw. The soldier, instead of march- 
ing barefoot like Socrates and Agesilaus, carried with 
him a train of camp-followers of both sexes, and sub- 
mitted to hardship only in the battle-field. Of course 
this luxury was more marked and notable among the 
Asiatic Greeks, but it affected the tone of all Hellenes 
just as surely as American customs spread into our 
colonies and affect ourselves. And with luxury there 
went, as always, laxity in morals and a proneness to 
the more sensual forms of vice. Their greater fineness 
of organization and better taste kept the Greeks at their 
worst from ever falling into the bestial sensuality of 
their Roman imitators ; but there can be no doubt that 

452 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

in the Hellenistic age they carried a good many old 
Hellenic vices to a far higher pitch of degraded refine- 
ment, and adopted other vices from the conquered 
nations. Murder became extremely cpmmon when times 
were unsettled, and even the violation of temples was 
no longer rare. These are the blots which are so 
obvious on the period, and which too often dispose the 
reader to wish to know no more about it. Yet such a 
judgment is historically unsound. A time when vice 
lies everywhere on the surface may be as important to 
the student of history as a person suffering from a 
chronic disease may be to the physiologist, and in both 
cases the defect may be accompanied by overflowing 
force and vitality in another direction. The reason of 
the general profligacy, and at the same time that which 
above all other things makes the Hellenistic Greeks 
seem modern to us, is the rise and growth among them 
of sentiment or sentimentality, which is nearly always 
the result of leisure and of comfortable surroundings. 
Sentiment may be said to bear the same relation to 
feeling which imagination bears to fact. When a nation, 
standing on a high level of civilization, suddenly feels a 
lightening of the material cares of life, the energy of 
feelings no longer required in the daily struggle is 
turned into more fanciful channels, and goes out towards 
the distant and the imagined. And the introduction of 
imagination makes good men better and bad men worse, 
so that the extremes of morality are farther apart than 
in simpler times. The same age produces Domitian and 
Trajan, Borgia and Savonarola. Such was the case with 
the Greeks of the age after Alexander. Cleanthes and 
other early Stoics advanced above the previous level of 
morality, and it would be difficult to find a juster ruler 
than the first Ptolemy, a nobler enthusiast than the 
martyr Agis, or a grander woman of the political class 

OiiAP. XV.] The Successors of Alexander. 453 

than his wife Agiatis. But on the other hand a great 
number of men and women, including the greater part 
of those princes and princesses of whom alone history- 
speaks, were cruel and treacherous, dead to natural feel- 
ing, and prone to hideous vices. But if the bulk of the 
people had followed the example of their leaders they 
could never have prospered as they did. And certainly 
any who were ambitious to excel in virtue might now 
find opportunities far greater than before. This general 
enlargement of the Greek horizon is well exhibited in 
a passage of Droysen, which we cannot do better than 
transcribe : — 

" In taking a general survey of the time we must not 
forget amid the gloomy pictures of fratricidal wars, storm- 
ing of towns, tyrannous violence, and the profligacy of 
courts, to cast an eye on the brighter side, the splendour 
of numberless blooming cities, the luxury of the most 
varied productions of art and manufacture, the thousand 
new enjoyments with which life is now adorned and 
enriched, among them those nobler ones ministered by 
the growing and fertile spread of a literature alike taste- 
ful and many-sided. And this all spreading over the 
wide regions of Hellenism and binding them together. 
Think of the crowds of Dionysiac artists and their 
joyous wandering life, the festivals and games of old 
and new Greek cities even in the far East, to which 
are gathered together from afar festive spectators in 
common worship. As far as the colonies on the Indus 
and Jaxartes, the Greek has kinsmen and finds country- 
men ; the merchant seeks on the Chinese frontier wares 
for the market of Puteoli and Massilia, and the bold 
Aetolian seeks his fortune on the Ganges or at Meroe. 
Scientific men explore the distant, the past, the wonders 
of nature ; for the first time an educated research lays 
open the ages gone by, the courses of the stars, the 

454 New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

language and literature of new peoples, whom of old 
the Greeks in their pride despised as barbarians, looking 
in stolid ignorance on their ancient monuments. In 
the iixed lights of the starry heavens, science finds for 
the first time means for measuring the earth, whose 
distances are now known, and whose great forms are 
surveyed and ordered. Science orders into system the 
marvellous traditions of the Babylonians, Egyptians, 
and Indians, and strives from a comparison of them 
to gain new results. All these streams of civiliza- 
tion, some subdued, some still raging and unbounded, 
are now united in the cauldron of Hellenistic culture 
and science, and preserved to history for all future 

In days when politics were the primary concern of 
the Greek citizen, domestic life formed only the back- 
ground of his existence, and occupied but a moderate 
part of his attention. But in Hellenistic times domestic 
life occupies a place by far more prominent, and the 
consequence is a great change in the family ties. The 
relation between father and son partakes less of autho- 
rity and more of friendship. We should scarcely find, 
before Alexander's time, so charming and cordial rela- 
tions between father and son as existed between the 
elder Antigonus and Demetrius, or between the first 
Seleucus and Antiochus. Both of the young princes we 
have named shared the thrones of their fathers ; Antiochus 
received at the hand of his father not only a kingdom 
but even, as a wife, his own young step-mother, of whom 
he was passionately enamoured. The position of women 
also changed unmistakably, and on the whole improved. 
There were in Syria and Egypt princesses, who some- 
times became queens, and occupied in the world of 
Greek society such a position as women had never 
before held. A number of cities, Laodicea, Berenice, 

Chap. XV.] The Successors of A lexander. 45 5 

Apamea, Arsinoe, and the rest, were named after them. 
The respect which they exacted tended to raise their 
whole sex. In the laxity of the time a position scarcely 
inferior to that of queens was occupied by the leading 
hetaerae, who disposed of cities and made wars by the 
favour of their admirers. Lamia exacted tribute on her 
own account from the rich burghers of Athens, Glycera 
required those who approached her to prostrate them- 
selves in the Oriental fashion, to Pythionice a temple 
and altar were erected at Athens as to an impersona- 
tion of Aphrodite. The splendid success of these female 
soldiers of fortune caused a host of the most able Greek 
women, even the daughters of citizens, to follow in their 

The best of these hetaerae were, if we may trust 
Athenaeus, sufficiently disreputable, yet it can hardly 
be doubted that their influence on the whole raised the 
position of their sex. Professor Helbig has well pointed 
out that it is in the Macedonian period of Greek his- 
tory that we find the beginnings of gallantry between 
the sexes in the modern sense of the word. Berenice, 
wife of the first Ptolemy, had a regular following of 
poets who were ever singing her praises ; the hair of 
her younger namesake was by a conspiracy of astrono- 
mers and poets raised to heaven, and gave its name to 
a constellation. Theocritus sends to the wife of Nicias 
at Miletus a spindle as a present, accompanied by a set 
of verses. The rude savage Polyphemus becomes in the 
Idyl of Theocritus a sentimental lover, who longs to 
kiss the white hand of his mistress Galateia, and is so 
far advanced in the lore of courtship, that when the lady 
makes advances by pelting him with apples he pretends 
not to see, in order to rouse her love by neglect. It 
would appear that flattery and attention on the part of 
men aroused in women all the arts of coquetry. Gallantry 

45^ New Chapters in Greek History. [Chap. XV. 

on the one hand and coquetry on the other may not 
be the highest form of sexual relations, but they indi- 
cate an advance from the time when women were either 
household drudges or slaves kept for the indulgence 
of appetite. According to Pericles and his contem- 
poraries, all outside the walls of her house should 
be a closed world to a woman ; but we find Phila, 
wife of Demetrius Poliorcetes, undertaking a diplomatic 
mission on behalf of her husband ; and at Alexandria 
we hear of female poets and painters, and even a 
woman, Histiaea, who writes a learned topographical 
commentary on the Iliad. How much liberty the wives 
of the citizens of Alexandria enjoyed appears from the 
Idyl of Theocritus, which represents Gorgo and Praxinoe 
as going, attended only by a maid, to the festival of 
Adonis, exchanging lively banter with the passers-by, 
and in a crush accepting the protection of a friendly 

It will probably occur to the reader that our remarks 
as to the altered status of women are not borne out 
fully by what remains of the new Attic comedy. This 
is to some extent the case ; the change took place 
earliest in the great cities of Asia and Egypt ; perhaps 
latest of all in Athens, where a vast mass of feeling and 
tradition had to be encountered. Cultivated 'men of 
the world, like Menander and Philemon, did not concern 
themselves much with new movements in society, unless 
they offered them a chance for ridicule. But they seem 
to have violently attacked the growth of Oriental super- 
stitions, and, if we knew more of their works, we might 
find that some of the shafts of their ridicule were directed 
against innovating women. 

It is well pointed out by Helbig that one circumstance 
in which we may trace the growing sentiment of the 
age is the rise of a love of nature of a character new 

Chap. XV.] The Successors of Alexander. 457 

to the Hellenic mind. As long a.s the Greeks lived in 
the full enjoyment of their own beautiful country, their 
love for the face of nature was a feeling which existed, 
but of which they were scarcely conscious ; but when 
they were cooped up in great cities in the plains of Asia 
and Africa, that love became a sentiment and a longing. 
Their desire for nature, being no longer satisfied with 
daily enjoyment, led them to resort to the practice of 
forming artificial parks, in which the scattered beauties 
of nature were gathered as it were into a nosegay. Such 
practice was not new in Asia, where the great kings of 
babylon and Persia had long ago stilled the same want 
in the same manner, but it was new to Hellenes. Antioch 
on the Orontes became celebrated for its splendid park, 
Alexandria was full of open squares, and the west end 
of the city of detached houses and pleasant gardens. 
The same taste may be traced in the contemporary 
poetry, more especially in that of Theocritus, and even 
in the painting of contemporary vases, in which land- 
scapes begin to appear, not quite conventionally treated, 
but showing touches fresh from nature. Kindred to this 
is the love of hunting, which is far more prominent 
among the Successors of Alexander than in the previous 

With the sentiment for nature realism in art goes 
naturally. In the statues of the school of Lysippus the 
portrayal of the different parts of the body is complete ; 
there is a careful rendering of muscles, sinews, veins, and 
fat. Lysistratus, the brother of Lysippus, was the first 
to take moulds of the faces which he intended to re- 
present. The portraits of the time before Alexander 
are treated ideally, and individual traits smoothed down. 
Even of Alexander himself we possess no representation 
which is not very highly idealized ; but of the Greek 
princes who succeeded him we possess a gallery of 

2 H 

458 Nczv Chapters in Greek Histoij. [Chap. XV. 

portraits, in which every individual character is brought 
into the strongest relief, sometimes, one would thitilc, 
even exaggerated. Of the pictures of the same period 
we have descriptions which show that they were extremely 
realistic. Thus we are told that in the picture of Apelles, 
which represented Alexander holding a thunderbolt, the 
hand and the thunderbolt seemed to stand out from the 
picture. All sorts of new subjects were chosen, such as 
a Dutch painter might have envied ; Methe drinking out 
of a glass through which her face showed ; Aphrodite 
looking into the shield of Ares and seeing the reflection 
of her own form. When the Greek artists of the fifth cen- 
tury had to represent Persians or Amazons, they could 
only indicate their nationality by a modification of 
dress ; the bodily forms remained the same ; but when the 
sculptors of Pergamus were called on to represent their 
king's victories over the Gauls, they proceeded in a very 
different manner. Their study of nature and knowledge 
of anatomy enabled them to see that the frame of the 
northern barbarians was of ruder and less symmetrical 
build than that of the Greeks, and led them to supply 
to art quite a new series of bodily shapes. The same 
truth to nature is clear in the terra-cottas of the period, 
of which a large number have reached England from 
Tanagra in Boeotia. 

There are many more phases of Hellenistic life over 
which we would gladly linger. We have not yet said 
a word about the relations of the Jews to the successors 
of Alexander, and the partial subjugation of their spirit 
by that of the Hellenes. We have not touched on the 
history of the Greek cities of Italy and Sicily, or on 
the immense influence exercised by Hellenism on Rome. 
These and many other such matters we must pass by 
in silence. Perhaps it was rash to attempt to compress 
into a short paper a statement of the leading eharac- 

Chap. XV.] The Successors of Alexander. 459 

teristics of all the eastern world for a period of two or 
three centuries. Our only justification is the desire to 
call more general attention to a period of history, with 
regard to which the general level of knowledge is very 
low, and yet which is remarkably full of instruction for 
modern times. 



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